In 2012, Wisconsin reported over 33,000 convictions for drinking and driving in the state and lost 233 people in fatal drunk driving traffic accidents. Reputed as having the highest rate of drunk driving in the nation, Wisconsin continues to strive for tighter restrictions on those who choose to operate a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). Some of these restrictions include higher court fines and fees or the suspension of driving privileges, but, there are also other consequences and legal considerations surrounding drunk driving in Wisconsin.
If a person is suspected of drunk driving in Wisconsin, he or she will likely face two separate charges for the crime: OWI and PAC, or, operating with prohibited (blood) alcohol content. Because Wisconsin adheres to the national legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit that defines intoxication, anyone who registers a .08 BAC during a sobriety test may be convicted of both OWI and PAC. These convictions, together, increase the penalties for drunk driving in Wisconsin, including a lengthy license suspension or revocation, ignition interlock installation and possible jail time, particularly for multiple offenses or for a high BAC measurement. However, in Wisconsin, only the OWI charge or the PAC charge will incur any penalties, not both, although a person can still be convicted of both charges.
Wisconsin continues to look for ways to curb drunk driving in the state in order to eliminate its negative reputation and provide more safety on the roads for all drivers and passengers. As legislation continues to restrict the ability for anyone convicted of OWI and PAC in Wisconsin to drive while intoxicated, educating residents about the dangers of drinking and driving continues to be a smart way to reduce the number of OWI and PAC convictions, as well as fatal traffic incidents caused by drinking and driving.