At least two changes occurred earlier this year making Wisconsin stricter in how it deals with drunk-drivers. One of the changes was a new law that removed the right of first time drunk-drivers to refuse providing a blood sample to law enforcement. The new law, which went into effect back in March, allows officers to request a warrant for a blood sample. Then a second law went into effect in April which made a fourth drunk-driving offense automatically a felony. Previously, such offenses were misdemeanors in most cases.
These changes are both part of the landscape of Wisconsin’s drunk-driving policy. In our last post, we began looking at a recent analysis conducted by the website WalletHub which ranked the states according to their strictness in addressing drunk-driving. As we noted, the state of Wisconsin ranked at number 37, meaning that the state is closer to the lenient side in its DUI policies. As the above changes in law demonstrate, though, it is becoming stricter.
The WalletHub analysis highlighted a number of points concerning Wisconsin’s drunken driving policy and landscape:
- No minimum jail time on first conviction
- Minimum jail time of 5 days on a second conviction
- A DUI becomes an automatic felony on a fourth offense
- A DUI conviction factors into penalties for a new DUI conviction for 10 years
- A DUI arrest triggers an administrative license suspension of 180 days
- Ignition interlock devices are required for a first conviction if the driver’s blood alcohol content is 0.15 or above
- Ignition interlock devices are mandatory for a period of 12 months
- Additional penalties are imposed in DUI cases when the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration is above 0.17
- Mandatory alcohol assessments are required
- Minimum fine on a first conviction is $150
- Minimum fine upon a second conviction is $350
- Average insurance rate increase after DUI is 51%
- Wisconsin does have measures in place to punish DUI offenders for child endangerment
Some of the more lenient aspects of state law are that vehicles are not impounded upon a drunk-driving arrest, Wisconsin does not conduct so-called “no refusal weekends”, nor do law enforcement agencies conduct sobriety checkpoints.
Despite the relative leniency of Wisconsin’s drunk-driving policy when compared to other states, though, it is crucial for those facing charges to work with an experienced attorney. A zealous advocate can help ensure that a criminal defendant has the best possible opportunity to minimize the consequences of drunk-driving charges in his or her case, whatever the facts of the case might be.
WalletHub, “Strictest And Most Lenient States On DUI,” Alina Comoreanu, Aug. 10, 2016.
Wbay.com, Governor closes loophole in first-offense drunk-driving law,” Sarah Thomson, Feb. 29, 2016.
Wisconsin Public Radio, “Walker Signs Harsher Penalties For Multiple Drunken Driving Offenses Into Law,” Laurel White, April 25, 2016.