Wisconsin Department of Transportation

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Drunken driving

Drunken driving in Wisconsin is...

Prevalent:

  • Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunken driving in the nation. More than 26 percent of Wisconsin adults who were surveyed admitted that they had driven under the influence of alcohol in the previous year, according to a nationwide study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released in April 2009.
  • There were more than 33,000 convictions for drunken driving offenses in Wisconsin last year (2012).

Deadly:

  • Alcohol-related crashes killed 223 people in Wisconsin and injured nearly 3,000 in 2012.
  • Approximately, 36 percent of all fatal traffic crashes in Wisconsin in 2012 were alcohol-related.
  • In 2012, 33 percent of all fatal motorcycle crashes in Wisconsin were alcohol-related.

Expensive and embarrassing:

  • Choosing to drive while impaired by alcohol or other drugs could be a decision you'll regret the rest of your life.
  • If you're arrested, you can lose your license as well as a huge amount of money.
  • Repeat drunken driving offenders face imprisonment.
  • If you hurt or kill someone in a crash you could face extremely serious charges, like negligent homicide or operating while intoxicated (OWI) causing injury.
  • Refuse a blood/breath alcohol concentration (BAC) test and you will lose your license on the spot for at least one year and you may have your car impounded.
  • Wisconsin recently strengthened its impaired driving laws to include mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices on all vehicles owned by anyone convicted of first offense operating while intoxicated (OWI) with an alcohol content of 0.15 or higher as well as second or subsequent offense OWI.
  • If you drive drunk with a child under age 16 in the vehicle, the penalties will double.
  • If you have two prior drunken driving convictions and have a BAC over 0.17, the penalties are multiplied.

Entirely preventable:

  • Choose a sober designated driver before you start drinking.
  • If you're feeling buzzed, you likely are over the 0.08 limit and should not drive.
  • Rather than risk an arrest, or even worse a crash, take mass transit, a taxicab or ask a sober friend to drive you home.
  • Save a life - don't let your friends drive drunk.
  • Some taverns and restaurants have programs to provide patrons with a safe ride home. Visit www.tlw.org.
  • Report impaired drivers to law enforcement or call 911.

Town hall meeting on drunken driving

To combat the deadly threat of drunken driving that destroys families and communities, the state's first-ever town hall meeting on impaired driving was held in August 2008.

Watch videos of the town hall meeting

Questions about the content of this page:
Colette Brown, Colette.brown@dot.wi.gov
Last modified: April 29, 2014

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