Alcohol is a common part of celebration in Wisconsin, but the celebrating can get you in trouble if you choose to get behind the wheel after drinking. Driving when you’re drunk is not only illegal but dangerous.
Each year in Wisconsin, drunk driving kills hundreds and injures thousands more. According to the US Department of Transportation, the number of fatalities from alcohol-related crashes increases by about 300 nationally during the time between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, which emphasizes how celebration can quickly turn into tragedy. In December of 2016 alone, 800 people died in drunk driving crashes.
Penalties for OWI in Wisconsin
While the holiday season brings an increase in drunk driving, operating a vehicle while under the influence (OWI) comes with serious consequences in Wisconsin at any time of year. In Wisconsin, drivers charged with OWI face costly fines and penalties:
- Fines from $125-$25,000.
- Jail time at your second offense from 5 days to 12 years or more.
- Loss of driver’s license from 6 months to three years.
- The use of an ignition interlock system upon your second or subsequent offense. This system requires you to blow into it before the vehicle can start and at certain times while the vehicle is in operation. The car will not start if it detects any amount of alcohol.
Additionally, if you have a child in your car under the age of 16 at the time you are pulled over, your fines increase.
The new state legislature is currently exploring more serious punishment for first time offenders. Wisconsin is the twentieth most populated state in the country, but is among the top fifteen when it comes to drunk driving arrests. The state is also known for its beer driven culture, ranging from college parties to a history of beer production within our borders.
While alcohol is a part of many people’s lives, there are many reasons to make responsible decisions before you drive. Even a small amount of alcohol can impair driving and affect your judgment. Keep yourself and others safe by designating a sober driver before you get to the party or by planning to use another form of transportation, such as a rideshare app or taxi, to get home.