In Wisconsin, a first-time drunk driving offense is considered more of a traffic violation than a safety issue. As a state with the highest rate of drunk driving in the country, it seems more could be done to prevent drunk driving, yet, Wisconsin law seems to favor the personal choice to drive drunk over public safety. This relaxed attitude toward drunk drivers continues to impact the safety of residents and visitors in the state, where repeat drunk driving offenders can have up to two OWI offenses without facing any jail time or other punishments.
Repeat OWI offenders in Wisconsin are a regular problem for the state, despite high court costs, mandatory ignition interlock installations and incarceration requirements that begin with any repeat OWI offense. In fact, Wisconsin law has additional legal guidelines for repeat offenders that are convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated 10 or more times, including a mandatory jail sentence of at least four years.
Other consequences faced by tenth (or higher) OWI offenders in Wisconsin are:
- Up to $25,000 in fines.
- Class F Felony conviction.
- Driving privileges revoked for 2-3 years, plus incarceration time.
- Ignition interlock installation for 1-3 years, plus incarceration time.
While the consequences of a tenth OWI conviction can prevent a person from committing further OWI crimes, there are concerns about Wisconsin’s overall attitude toward drinking and driving as defined in the laws of the state. Wisconsin does not allow sobriety checkpoints, and ignition interlock devices are only required for repeat offenders or first-time offenders with a .15 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. If Wisconsin were to increase the penalties for drunk driving offenses, including mandatory ignition interlock installations for all first-time convictions, OWI offenders in Wisconsin would quickly remember to stay sober behind the wheel.