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There have been no significant changes to Wisconsin DUI laws for 2023. This article is intended to give you a brief overview of any changes to Wisconsin DUI laws, as well as information on navigating a DUI in Wisconsin.


Key Takeaways

For 2023, there have been no significant changes to Wisconsin DUI laws. This article is intended to give you a brief overview of any changes to Wisconsin DUI laws, as well as information on navigating a DUI in Wisconsin.

Recently, Wisconsin state legislature (Senate Bill 135) enacted a law revoking your driver’s license for a fourth DUI offense or higher. This law applies as long as the previous offense occurred less than 15 years ago, and penalties are higher if a minor under 16 was in the car. If you find yourself in this scenario, you must have the right team of DUI attorneys specifically experienced in Wisconsin to most effectively address your unique and individual needs on a case-to-case basis. It’s an intelligent investment in preserving your best possible future and making sure you are treated fairly.  

Navigating this complicated scenario can be frustrating and challenging. As noted above, your prior record and the particular facts of your case determine how you need to approach fighting your charges. Knowing the ins and outs of DUI and traffic laws in Wisconsin is extremely important. Your lawyer should be current and competent, not one or the other.

Don’t settle for a mediocre plea deal. We will fight your case for dismissal or reduction of the charge against you. Depending on the circumstances, defending your DUI case in Wisconsin can involve various things. Our attorneys have a track record of success. They are prepared to handle your DUI case under current 2023 Wisconsin state laws from start to finish, with particular attention to your case.

Police office scene

What Happens in these Cases?

Finding the right lawyer to handle your DUI case in Wisconsin properly is essential. DUI trials usually involve you, your attorney, the state prosecutor and police officer who arrested you, and the judge (and jury if you request it). Plea deals can be appropriate in some scenarios, depending on the circumstances, but they are not always the answer.  

What are my Rights?  

At a bare minimum, you should know this:  

  • Wisconsin is an implied consent state. Driving gives the state and police officers the right tot test you chemically.
  • Judges and courts usually frown upon refusals, but some exceptions could make your DUI case different.  
  • You don’t have to blow, but there can be significant legal repercussions, such as in DUI-refusal / implied consent cases when you’re more than double the legal limit (above 0.16 BAC—penalties are double).  
  • Up to $500 fines and nine months incarceration for first DUI conviction.  
  • A second DUI offense is a criminal charge, resulting in mandatory jail time and a permanent criminal record if you are convicted.  
  • If you’re under 21, Wisconsin has a Zero Tolerance policy, and the penalties may be different depending on the facts of your case.  

What does Implied Consent Mean?

Wisconsin has implied consent laws, which means that if you’re driving in the state, you have to comply with a police officer’s request to take a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse, your license is automatically suspended for a year. The logic is there’s no reason to refuse if you’re innocent. We know that’s not always the case, however. There are other significant reasons a person might object to chemical testing (for example, serious privacy rights and the requirement for the officer to have a warrant to request/take physical evidence from your body).  


Automobile keys and alcohol

What are the Penalties?

It depends on whether it’s your first or second DUI (or higher). In Wisconsin, the first DUI is a traffic offense (not a criminal charge). It could still cost you around $500 in fines and nine months in jail. That is minor in comparison, however, to second DUI and higher. These are the main differences:  

Second offenses and higher are treated as a crime. That’s worse for your record and carries increased fines and jail sentences. Of course, in this context, we are talking about convictions instead of arrests. That means that a court has to find you guilty before considering a conviction. That rule applies to this article (and charges/offenses in general).  

Keep in mind that if you’re at or above 0.16 BAC (double the legal limit), the penalties in Wisconsin are stiffer. That applies not only to subsequent (second or higher) convictions but the first DUI as well.

Here are a few other things to remember about DUI penalties in Wisconsin:  

  • Suppose you refuse a breathalyzer instead of other kinds of chemical testing (e.g., blood draw). In that case, there are not necessarily legal penalties. They are considered preliminary tests (usually taken at the scene), not admissible evidence in your case. It helps have the right team of lawyers with experience and a track record of success in DUI cases, specifically in Wisconsin.  
  • For DUI cases where someone is injured or killed, the charge is worse than a traditional DUI (a felony). To the tune of losing your license for five years, up to 25 years of incarceration, and a $100,000 fine. Additionally, an ignition interlock device will be installed in your car. You could face up to 40 years in jail, depending on your record! Ouch. You have to have a reasonable DUI attorney who knows their way around Wisconsin courts.  
  • Fourth DUI and higher is a felony. For the fifth offense, you’re looking at ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.  

Can you afford those kinds of consequences? For most people, the answer is no. DUI cases are severe and require serious attorneys with experience handling DUI cases in Wisconsin. Every case is different, but a good lawyer usually helps.

However, multiple DUI convictions resulting in harsher penalties aren’t common, right? Wrong. According to 2022 data, in Wisconsin, there were 147,404 drivers with 2+ DUI convictions in 2021 alone.  

Driving with view of rearview mirror

How Can I Avoid Being Arrested For DUI In The First Place?

The best answer is to avoid drinking and driving. The next best alternative is to be safe, know your rights, and remember you don’t have to say anything (often you shouldn’t), and you’re entitled to a lawyer. Our DUI attorneys in Wisconsin have the experience and know-how to guide you through the process and defend your case as effectively as possible.

Call or email us (630) 324-6666 at today, or use the link to schedule a consultation to discuss your case with an experienced Wisconsin DUI attorney.

November 30, 2022
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