minors drinking & driving
It is illegal for a person who is under the legal drinking age in Wisconsin (21 years) to drive a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their bloodstream.
Drinking and driving laws pertaining to minors are called "Zero Tolerance Laws" in Wisconsin. Any person who has been issued a driver's license in the state of Wisconsin has given their implied consent to be tested for sobriety, and can be charged separately for refusing to submit to a sobriety test. Penalties can include suspension or revocation of an underage person's driving privileges. While an underage person can drink with a parent present, the penalties are stiff for illegally serving a minor. Under no circumstances may a parent give a child permisison to drink and drive. It is a crime in the state of Wisconsin for a person to drive while under the influence with a minor in the vehicle.
LEGAL DRINKING AGE IN WISCONSIN
The legal drinking age in the state of Wisconsin is 21 years.
A person can legally drink in the state of Wisconsin at 12:01 AM on the morning of his or her 21st birthday.
Wisconsin law, Statute 346.63, Subsection 2M, prohibits any person who has not attained the legal drinking age in Wisconsin from driving or operating a motor vehicle while he or she has an alcohol concentration of more than 0.0 but not more than 0.08.
ZERO TOLERANCE LAWS IN WISCONSIN
Wisconsin's underage drinking and driving laws are referred to as, "Zero Tolerance Laws" because of the strict limitations those laws place on the underage driver who cannot have consumed even one drop of alcohol before driving.
IMPLIED CONSENT LAWS GOVERNING MINORS
Since 1969, Wisconsin law has existed that mandates that a person who operates a motor vehicle on the highways in Wisconsin has been deemed to have given their consent to submit to a chemical test upon request by a police officer. Those laws are referred to as Wisconsin Implied Consent Law.
Wisconsin Implied Consent Law applies to underage persons. The driver's driving privileges can have been granted by the state of Wisconsin or any other state. The law is specific to the operation of a motor vehicle on Wisconsin roads, not to the state of origin of a driver's license.
Implied Consent Law does not extend to a search of the motor vehicle. Police should not search a vehicle unless police believe that they may be in danger of harm by your, or police believe evidence related to the crime of arrest may be found in the vehicle. A search subsequent to a police stop that was not legal may constitute grounds for a Constitutional challenge or other legal remedies.
MINORS DRIVING DRUNK AND REFUSING TO TEST
If a minor who has been arrested for driving while under the influence refuses to submit to a sobriety test, the minor can be charged with a separate offense referred to as a "refusal." A refusal counts as a drunk driving offense for the purpose of counting if the person is again arrested for drunk driving. A refusal to submit to a sobriety test can result in additional penalties.
UNDERAGE DRINKING AND DRIVING PENALTIES
An underage driver who drives a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of more than 0.0 is subject to the penalties of the state of Wisconsin. One penalty for violation of the Zero Tolerance Laws is suspension of the person's driver's license.
A refusal however subjects the minor to further penalties. If the minor refused to submit to a sobriety test, police can force them to submit to the test, and their driver's license can be revoked.
OCCUPATIONAL DRIVER'S LICENSE FOR SUSPENDED UNDERAGE DRIVER'S
An underage driver whose driver's license has been suspended due to a conviction for driving while under the influence (aka drunk driving, OWI or DUI) is eligible for an occupational licenses at any time.
MINOR DRINKING LAWS
Under Wisconsin law, Statute 125.07, it is illegal for any person under the age of 21 years to buy, acquire or be given any alcohol beverage. No person may procure for, sell, dispense or give away any alcohol beverage to a minor (a person under the age of 21 years). [See exception at Underage Drinking With A Parent] No adult may intentionally encourage or contribute to the intoxication of a minor.
PENALTIES FOR ILLEGALLY SERVICING A MINOR
Any person who procures for, sells to or gives to a minor any alcohol beverage is subject to penalties under Wisconsin law. Those penalties range from fines of not more than $500, imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both to fines upwards of $10,000, imprisonment for 9 months, or both for repeat offenses. A court may:
- For a first offense, or a subsequent offense that occurred at least 30 months after a first offense, fine the violator not more than $500, imprison the violator for not more than 30 days, or both.
- If the violator has committed two previous violations within 30 months of the current violation, fine the violator not more than $1,000, imprison the violator for not more than 90 days, or both;
- If the violator has committed three previous violations within 30 months of the current violation, fine the violator not more than $10,000, imprison the violator for not more than 9 months, or both
- Suspend any license or permit issued by Wisconsin for not more than three days if the court finds that the person committed a violation within 12 months, 10 days for two prior violations, and not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days for three violations.
MINOR IN VEHICLE WITH DRUNK DRIVER
Under Wisconsin's new drunk driving laws, it is a crime for a person who is intoxicated to drive or operate a motor vehicle while a minor is in the vehicle.
UNDERAGE DRINKING WITH A PARENT
Contrary to popular belief, a person under the legal drinking age in Wisconsin (currently, 21 years of age) doesn't have a right to drink in public while accompanied by a parent. Wisconsin law does not require a bar or bartender to serve a minor whose parent gives permission for the minor to drink.
Wisconsin law, Statute 125.07, provides that no person may procure for, sell, dispense or give away any alcohol beverage to any underage person not accompanied by his or her parent, legal guardian or spouse provided the parent, legal guardian or spouse who is at least 21 years of age.
A person under the legal drinking age in Wisconsin (21 years) may not drive a vehicle if they have consumed alcohol, even if a parent, legal guardian or spouse of legal drinking age accompanies the minor. While a parent can give a minor permission to drink while that minor is accompanied by the parent, a parent cannot give a minor permission to drive after the minor has consumed any amount of alcohol.
UNDERAGE PERSON'S RIGHT TO COUNSEL & pRIVACY
For the purposes of Wisconsin's drinking laws, an underage person is a person who is under the legal drinking age, which is currently 21 years of age. An underage person has the same rights to counsel as a person who is over the age of 21 years. Under U. S. Constitutional law and Wisconsin law, if you invoke your right to counsel, police must stop questioning you until your attorney arrives.
There are, however, a few notations that should be observed from the above statements. If you invoke your right to counsel when you are stopped by the police on suspicion of driving while under the influence (drunk driving, also known as OWI or DUI), the police will likely arrest you. Under Wisconsin's implied consent laws, police can arrest you for refusing to take a test, and then force you to take the test (usually a blood draw at a hospital) even if they must restrain you to do so. If you are an underage person who is driving with alcohol in your bloodstream, and you are stopped by police, it is very likely that you will be arrested and charged with an OWI. It may also help an underage person to know that there are no excuses allowed under Wisconsin law. The need to drive a sick parent or friend to the hospital or home, being the only person who could drive, fleeing a situation that could have harmed you, or any of the many other excuses used in the past by other minors will almost assuredly fail in getting you out of an OWI charge.
MISTAKES HAPPEN - ACTIONS AFTERWARDS COUNT
Obviously, the BEST solution for any underage person is to avoid drinking illegally, and never drive if you have been drinking. In some situations, faulty testing equipment can give a false reading, or the police stop is illegal, thus allowing an attorney to argue that the evidence gathered (even a blood draw at the hospital) cannot be used against you. Typically, when an underage person is arrested for drunk driving, it is a one time event that they won't repeat but, if convicted, the effects of that event are long-lasting, inconvenient and very costly. Your current automobile insurance will likely be cancelled; your future auto insurance rates will be increased; you will be required to obtain special insurance after a conviction; and the chances of getting the family car will certainly decline.
WISCONSIN DRUNK DRIVING DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
The drunk driving defense attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood cannot promise you an outcome; no ethical DUI attorney would do so. What they can promise you is that they will commit their years of experience from both sides of the criminal system and handling thousands of DUI cases to your case to help you achieve the best possible outcome given the circumstances.
SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY TODAY
If you are an underage person who has been arrested for drunk driving or any alcohol or drug-related offense, if you are the concerned parent of a minor who has been arrested for an underage alcohol offense, or if you are the legal guardian or spouse of a person facing charges, please call ( or ) or e-mail Attorney Christopher T. Van Wagner or Attorney Tracey A. Wood for a free but professional "first-impression" analysis of your case.
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The information that you obtain at this website is not nor is it intended to be legal advice. Legal advice should only be obtained directly from an attorney who is aware of the facts of the case.