Skip to main content

2009 Wisconsin New Drunk Driving Law

Contact Information
Stephen Eisenberg
Eisenberg Law Offices, S.C.
February 22, 2010

Eisenberg Law, S.C. comments on New OWI Law that Impacts Wisconsin Drivers & OWI Offenders

Madison, Wisconsin – Governor Doyle recently signed 2009 Wisconsin Act 100 into law which substantially changes current laws regarding operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant (OWI), which will directly affect Wisconsin drivers and OWI offenders.  The new act will take effect on July 1, 2010.

Under the new Wisconsin law, first-time OWI offenses that involve a passenger under the age of 16 will be criminal.  These drunk driving offenses will be punishable by up to 6 months in jail among other penalties.  The new law also abolishes the provision in current law that exempts first-time OWI offenders with blood alcohol concentrations between .08-.099 from surcharges and alcohol assessments.  As of July 1, 2010, all first-time OWI offenders will be subject to these surcharges and alcohol assessments.

“When the new OWI law goes into effect, many drivers who would have previously been cited with non-criminal OWI offenses will be subject to criminal penalties.  With a criminal charge, the stakes are higher and the long-term consequences can be devastating.  It is important for anyone charged with operating while under the influence of an intoxicant to retain an OWI attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in OWI defense to protect his or her interests,” said Steve Eisenberg, a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney who has defended hundreds of OWI cases.

Other significant changes include a provision that renders a fourth offense OWI a felony if a prior OWI occurred within the previous 5 years.  Also under the new law, second and third OWI offenders may be placed on probation.  Currently, probation is not permitted until a fourth offense.  On a third and subsequent offense, a court will no longer be permitted to stay the execution of a sentence.  This means that on third and subsequent offenses, defendants will be required to immediately report to jail to serve at least the minimum confinement time, as opposed to current law which permits courts to “stay” jail sentences for up to 60 days.

The new Wisconsin law also requires all repeat OWI offenders to obtain Ignition Interlock Devices (IID).  First-time drunk driving and OWI offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 and above will also be required to obtain an IID.  OWI offenders should seek consult from a knowledgeable OWI attorney who has experience in OWI law.

For more information on Wisconsin OWI law and criminal defense, contact Eisenberg Law Offices, S.C. at 608-256-8356 for a free consultation or visit



Eisenberg Law has successfully represented our clients in thousands of Personal Injury, Criminal Defense and Family Law Cases during our 30-plus years in business.