According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunk driving in the nation. As a result, officials across the state are stepping up efforts to remove drunk drivers from the state's roadways and legislators have changed drunken driving laws to increase penalties for offenses.

Law enforcement officers are increasing their efforts by taking part in the national "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign throughout the state. The campaign is designed to deter drunk driving by increasing the number of vehicles pulled over and issuing more operating while under the influence (OWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) citations.

Legislators are also taking action by increasing the penalties associated with DUI/OWI convictions. These changes were implemented in 2010 with the passage of Wisconsin Act 100.

Drivers are already experiencing the impact of these changes, as noted in a previous article: Multiple DUI charges result in serious penalties for Kenosha man. Essentially, a 50 year-old man was involved in an accident in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The man rear-ended another vehicle stopped at a red light. Due to the changes in the law, the accident did not lead to typical charges, but instead resulted in felony charges, which are much harsher.

Operating while under the influence laws in Wisconsin

A variety of changes to Wisconsin's drunken driving laws were implemented in 2010 with the passage of Wisconsin Act 100. Changes included the use of ignition interlock devices and increasing the penalties for offenses when children were present in the vehicle at the time of the charge.

Ignition interlock devices are now required for repeat offenders. The device may also be required for a first time offender who has a BAC, or blood alcohol content, of 0.15 or higher as well as anyone who refuses to take field sobriety tests. Ignition interlocks must be installed on every vehicle the driver owns and the driver must cover the cost of installation, monthly service fees and removal.

An OUI or DUI charge should not be taken lightly. Penalties associated with the charge can be harsh. These penalties can include:

  • Monetary fines
  • Jail time
  • Suspension or even revocation of a driver's license.

In addition to these penalties, a DUI/OWI conviction can make finding a job difficult since most employment applications will require disclosure of such offenses. As a result, these charges should be taken seriously.

If you or a loved one is charged with OWI offense in Wisconsin, it is important to contact an experienced DUI attorney to better ensure your legal rights are protected.