Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws & Penalties in 2023: How Much Alcohol Can You Drink and Drive?

Drink and drive DUI laws in Wisconsin

The legal blood alcohol level (BAC) in Wisconsin is 0.08% (80 mg alcohol per 100 mL of blood). It is critical to understand that even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than 0.08%, you can still be charged with OWI (operating while intoxicated) if your driving abilities are compromised by alcohol or other substances.

Commercial drivers in Wisconsin are not permitted to drive if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.04% or above. Furthermore, drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to have any level of alcohol in their system. Violations of this state statute may result in an OWI charge, also known as DUI, in other states.

A 0.08% or greater BAC may result from one to two standard alcoholic beverages. However, because BAC can change depending on factors like weight and gender, this percentage should only be used as a guideline.

This post’s sole goal is to raise awareness regarding impaired driving in Wisconsin. We do not advise or encourage drunk driving in any state or region.

According to NHTSA data, 34% of Wisconsin’s 614 fatal crashes in 2020 involved drivers with a BAC of 0.08% or above. Wisconsin’s Bureau of Transportation Safety and Technical Services also collects data on the human repercussions of traffic accidents across the state. 

It is not recommended to drive while intoxicated as it is risky. You must avoid driving after drinking alcohol.

If you must travel after drinking, use Uber, a designated driver service, or a cab.

Wisconsin has DUI laws to reduce the number of drunk driving incidents. The administration also has several DUI campaigns to boost impaired driving awareness in the state.

It is critical to follow the state’s drunk driving laws. If you really must drive, you should have your blood alcohol level checked before you get behind the wheel. An alcohol breathalyzer can help determine your BAC level.

For further information about DUI driving restrictions, we recommend visiting the official website of Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Wisconsin

Alcohol enters your bloodstream within 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption. Your breathing rate may begin to slow down, making it difficult to think clearly.

Symptoms of alcohol intoxication may appear as soon as you take your first drink. It can impair sound decision-making and lead to people doing things they would not do otherwise.

Slower reaction times, weakened reflexes, and altered perceptions of distance and speed are all possible outcomes. These circumstances can occur even if you do not appear or feel intoxicated. 

Although the state’s legal BAC limit is 0.08%, bear in mind that one person’s reaction to alcohol can be different from another.

Your blood alcohol concentration may be affected by the following factors:

  • gender,
  • weight,
  • levels of stress,
  • hunger,
  • alcohol consumption level, and
  • Intake of medication.

While some people may appear normal after drinking alcohol, their driving abilities may already be affected. After a few drinks, some people may feel unsteady or even faint. It is best to have your blood alcohol level evaluated before driving.

Tools like a BAC calculator and BAC chart can guide you in finding out how much alcohol you can consume before driving. However, because everyone reacts differently to alcohol, these tools may not be helpful for everyone. Using a certified alcohol breathalyzer is the best method to detect your BAC correctly.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Wisconsin

Blood alcohol concentrations ranging from 0.010% to 0.029% are unlikely to produce substantial impairment. People with this BAC usually appear sober. However, as BAC levels rise, alcohol-related impairment indicators become increasingly apparent.

If an individual’s BAC level is 0.08% or higher, as determined by a chemical test, they are regarded to be operating while under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

DUI laws change from state to state. To prevent fines and penalties, test your blood alcohol level before driving.

Wisconsin DUI sanctions are described below.

First OWI Offense in Wisconsin

First-time offenders of OWI in Wisconsin may face the following penalties:

  • Fines: $150 to $300
  • License Suspension: Six (6) to nine (9) months of license revocation

Second OWI Offense in Wisconsin

A person who commits a second OWI offense within ten (10) years may face the following punishment:

  • Jail Time: Five (5) days to six (6) months in jail
  • Fines: $350 to $1,100
  • License Suspension: 12 to 18 months of license revocation

Third OWI Offense in Wisconsin

Third-time OWI offenders are bound to face the following consequences:

  • Jail Time: 45 days up to one-year imprisonment
  • Fines: $600 to $2,000
  • License Suspension: Two (2) to three (3) years of license revocation

Fourth OWI Offense in Wisconsin

A fourth OWI offense in Wisconsin is considered a class H felony. This offense is punishable with the following penalties:

  • Jail Time: 60 days up to six years of imprisonment
  • Fines: $600 to $10,000
  • License Suspension: Two (2) to three (3) years of license revocation

OWI Substance Abuse Treatment 

Anyone convicted of an OWI in Wisconsin must undergo a drug and alcohol evaluation. This evaluation will be used to develop a driver safety plan outlining the offender’s treatment, OWI education, and sobriety testing requirements.

Community Service for OWI/DUI Convictions

Some OWI convictions allow the judge to compel community service. A judge might give 30 days of community service in lieu of jail time for a second DUI violation.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Wisconsin?

A variety of things influence a person’s blood alcohol concentration. Gender has a considerable impact on BAC levels, according to studies. The BAC thresholds for men and women are different. 

Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) levels in men are significantly greater than in women. The ADH enzymes regulate alcohol metabolism. As a result, men absorb alcohol faster than women.

The information provided below can assist you in determining the amount of alcohol you can consume before driving in Wisconsin.

Although the following data is based on research, remember that everyone’s reaction to alcohol is different. As a result, the suggested approximate amount of alcohol shown below may not apply to everyone.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Wisconsin?

How much beer can you drink and drive in Wisconsin

A lighter person has a higher BAC level, according to BAC charts.

A 160-pound male (72 kilos) with a BAC level of 0.02% can consume a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer.

A female of the same weight and drinking habits may have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.03%.

This figure demonstrates how a person’s gender influences alcohol metabolism.

Given the above example, limiting your beer consumption to one to two bottles is best if you need to drive later.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Wisconsin?

A conventional 5-ounce (142-milliliter) glass of wine has an ABV of 12%.

A 160-pound male can have a BAC of 0.02% after consuming one glass of wine, as demonstrated in the sample above.

A lady of the same weight who drinks the same amount of alcohol may have a BAC of 0.03%.

When factors like stress, an empty stomach, and medication use are considered, these BAC levels can climb.

One or two glasses of wine are enough if you must drive after drinking.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Wisconsin?

The ABV of distilled alcohol such as vodka and whiskey is 40%.

After consuming a single shot of vodka or whiskey, a 160-pound man can have a BAC of 0.02%. 

In comparison, a woman of the same body weight and alcohol consumption level could have a BAC of 0.03%.

As previously indicated, BAC levels might rise if other conditions are present.

If you must drive after drinking, restrict yourself to one to two shots of whiskey or vodka.

Sticking to DUI Laws in Wisconsin

Impaired driving is extremely dangerous. You may lose control of yourself and your vehicle if you are intoxicated. Everyone on the road should be aware of the dangers of drunk driving and take every measure to avoid it. 

Even if you consumed a few bottles or glasses of alcohol, you should not be complacent about your BAC and driving abilities. It is best to consider alternative modes of transportation instead of driving.

If you must drive after drinking, ensure your driving ability is not hindered. We recommend using a certified alcohol breathalyzer to measure your blood alcohol level.

To remain current on Wisconsin DUI laws, visit the state’s Department of Transportation official website.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.