Wisconsin's Drugged Driving Laws

How drug use can result in a DUI/OWI charge in Wisconsin and the penalties that result from a conviction.

Wisconsin not only prohibits drunk driving but also operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) by drugs. The penalties for a drug OWI are generally the same as those for an alcohol-related offense.

This article discusses how Wisconsin defines drugged driving and the consequences of a violation.

Drugged Driving Defined

A Wisconsin motorist can be convicted of a drug OWI for driving or being in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while under the influence any "controlled substance."

Under Wisconsin law, a driver is considered under the influence when, as the result of ingesting drugs, he or she is "incapable of safely" driving. But Wisconsin also has a "per se" law for drugs. Under the per se law, a driver with any detectible amount of a controlled substance in his or her system can be convicted of an OWI.

Controlled substances. Wisconsin's list of "controlled substances" is extensive and includes:

  • opioids
  • opiates
  • stimulants
  • hallucinogens,
  • benzodiazepines, and
  • cannabinoids.

Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, and painkillers (like OxyContin and Vicodin) are some of the more common examples of controlled substances.

Drugged Driving Penalties

The consequences of a Wisconsin drugged driving conviction depend on the circumstances. But an OWI is generally a misdemeanor and carries the following possible penalties:

  • First offense. A first OWI conviction generally carries a fine of $150 to $300 and a license suspension of six to nine months.
  • Second offense. For a second OWI within ten years, the offender is generally looking at five days to six months in jail, $350 to $1,100 in fines, and a license suspension of 12 to 18 months.
  • Third offense. Generally, a third OWI within ten years will result in 45 days to a year in jail, $600 to $2,000 in fines, and a license suspension of two to three years.

Generally, an OWI offender will also be required to have an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle for at least a year following license reinstatement.

Getting Legal Help

Wisconsin OWI law is complex, and the facts of every case are different. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, talk to an experienced OWI attorney in your area. A qualified OWI lawyer can tell you how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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