Wisconsin’s OWI/DUI Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for an OWI/DUI conviction in Wisconsin.

The consequences of driving under the influence (DUI)—which is called "operating under the influence" in Wisconsin—depend mostly on the number of prior convictions the driver has. This article covers Wisconsin's OWI laws and the penalties you'll face for a first, second, and third OWI conviction.

Wisconsin's OWI/DUI Laws

Wisconsin prohibits a person from operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) by drugs or alcohol. This prohibition includes any person who drives or operates a vehicle:

A prohibited BAC is any BAC of .08% or more regardless of the person's level of actual impairment. However, the amount of alcohol necessary to reach this BAC level can differ depending on the person's gender and body size and the type of alcohol.

Wisconsin OWI/DUI Penalties

Wisconsin has established minimum and maximum penalties for OWI convictions based on the number of prior offenses. Based on these limits and the circumstances of the offense, the judge will generally decide the specific penalties.

How Long an OWI Stays on Your Record in Wisconsin

Generally, an OWI conviction stays on your record for ten years. However, if you have two or more priors, a subsequent conviction will be considered a third offense regardless of how long ago the other two convictions occurred.

Jail Time and Fines for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd OWI in Wisconsin

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense



5 days to 6 months

45 days to 1 year


$150 to $300

$350 to $1,100

$600 to $2,000

Wisconsin's Substance Abuse Treatment Requirement for OWIs

Every person convicted of an OWI in Wisconsin is required to submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation. This evaluation will be used to create a driver safety plan which outlines the treatment, OWI education, and sobriety testing required for the offender.

Community Service for OWI/DUI Convictions in Wisconsin

The judge is permitted to order community service for some OWI convictions. For a second-offense DUI, the judge can order 30 days of community service instead of jail time.

Wisconsin OWI/DUI Probation

A judge can suspend a portion of an offender's jail term by ordering probation. However, for a third-offense OWI, the judge must order at least 14 days of jail time even if ordering probation.

Wisconsin's OWI Enhancements for Child Passengers

For any OWI conviction that involved a passenger under 16 years old, the fine, jail time, and license revocation period will be doubled.

Wisconsin's OWI Enhancements for a High BAC

A driver with a BAC of .17 to .199% will face doubled fines. The fine is tripled for a driver with a BAC of .20% to .249% and quadrupled for a driver with a BAC of .25% or greater.

Wisconsin's OWI Driver's License Sanctions

For an OWI conviction, the court will order the driver's license be revoked for the following periods:

  • First offense. Six to nine-month driver's license revocation.
  • Second offense. 12 to 18-month driver's license revocation.
  • Third offense. Two to three-year driver's license revocation.

Hardship license. Any driver whose license is revoked for an OWI conviction can request a hardship or occupational license. Judges are permitted to issue one of these restricted licenses which can be used only for travel related to work, school, or treatment purposes.

Ignition interlock. The use of an ignition interlock device (IID) will be required for at least one year after the driver obtains either a hardship license or a reinstated driver's license.

Underage OWIs

Drivers who are under 21 years old can also be convicted of an underage OWI. Underage motorists who are caught driving with a BAC greater than .0% but less than .08% face a three-month license suspension and a $200 fine.

Plea Bargaining in Wisconsin OWI Cases

While a prosecutor is unlikely to outright dismiss an OWI charge—unless the court throws out evidence that's critical to prove the charge—Wisconsin law doesn't prohibit reducing an OWI charge to a lesser offense. Visit with an attorney about the possibility of pleading to a different charge with fewer penalties.

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