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Wisconsin legal drinking age: 21
Blood Alcohol Concentration limit
  to determine drunk driving
BAC 1st, 2nd, 3rd OWI: .08
BAC 4th, 5th, subsequent: .02
BAC if under 21: 0.00

Wis. Statute 343.03, Wis. Statute 346.63(1)(a)

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Wisconsin Drunk driving report

Soon after headlines across the nation reported Wisconsin as the worse state for drunk driving, Wisconsin law enforcement launched a drunk driving campaign - "if you get stopped, you will get arrested" - and legislatures turned their focus on increasing OWI penalties.

Wisconsin Laws - 1st OWI Non-Criminal

Wisconsin is the only state where a first drunk driving offense is not a crime. In every other state, a first offense (OWI 1st, DUI 1st or DWI 1st) is a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor is a crime. [See Felonies and Misdemeanors].

Wisconsin OWI (DUI) Arrests

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the number of drunk driving arrests in the state of Wisconsin has increased, while the number of fatal crashes involving drunk drivers has decreased.



Drunk driving arrests  
Car crashes involving alcohol  
Arrests Convicted      
Refusal Convicted      


Fatalies Caused by Drunk Drivers Decreased

In 1990, Wisconsin police arrested 35,753 people for operating while under the influence (OWI), 13,370 car accidents involved drunk drivers resulting in 335 fatalies and 10,035 injuries.

In 2000, police arrested 38,324 on drunk driving charges, but the number of car accidents involving drunk drivers decreased to about 8,000 resulting in approximately 300 fatalites and 7,000 injuries.

Wisconsin Convictions Increased

Of those arrested and adjudicated for drunk driving, 92% were found guilty of drunk driving. Of those who refused to submit to a blood alcohol test, 93% were convicted.

Impact of Report on drunk drivers

As noted in the beginning paragraph, police and other law enforcement agencies have reacted to the report. The Wiscosnin DOT has increased the amount of information they provide the public on their website, including a BAC calculator - blood alcohol level calculator. While the full impact is yet to be realized when reports become available, penalties have continued to be harsh for anyone convicted of an OWI in Wisconsin. Courts frequently impose sentences in excess of those recommended by the sentencing guidelines.

You may be interested in the drunk driving faq's - frequently asked questions. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, or if you were previously convicted of an OWI in Wisconsin but believe the conviction or sentence were wrong, please call the law offices of Van Wagner & Wood to speak with an attorney. You have 10 days to act from the date of your arrest to save your driver's license. You can submit your OWI case information for a reply e-mail or phone call, call () the office and ask to speak with an attorney, or e-mail the attorneys.