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Understanding OWI Penalties in Wisconsin

Understanding OWI Penalties in Wisconsin

Getting arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) can be a stressful time. Because each state has different laws about ignition interlock devices, understanding the sentencing guidelines in your state is crucial. Let’s walk through what happens if you’re a resident of Wisconsin who is arrested for drunk driving.

What are the penalties for OWI in Wisconsin?

Your license will be revoked, and you will face other penalties depending on if it is your first OWI offense and the level of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest. You might also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID).

The penalties shown by offense in the table below.

 Offense  Sentencing Guidelines

 1st Offense OWI with BAC less than .15

  • Installation of IID is not required
  • Suspended license for 6–9 months
  • May apply for an occupational license immediately to regain limited driving privileges
 1st offense OWI with BAC of .15 or higher
  • Subject to court-ordered IID
  • Suspended license for 6–9 months
  • May apply for an occupational license immediately to regain limited driving privileges

 2nd offense OWI

  • Subject to court-ordered IID
  • Suspended license for 12–18 months
  • May apply for an occupational license after 45 day

 3rd and subsequent OWI offenses

  • Subject to court-ordered IID
  • Suspended license for 2–3 years
  • May apply for occupational driver’s license after 45 days


What is an Occupational License?

To regain your driving privileges, you must apply for and receive an occupational license. This occupational license is a restricted driver’s license that limits when, where and what type of vehicle you can drive. An occupational license allows you to drive:

  • To and from work, school or college
  • To and from places that you need to visit to maintain your household — grocery store, pharmacy, laundromat, gas station
  • To and from your church or place or worship
  • To attend necessary appointments such as medical appointments or your driver safety plan classes.

You may not use your occupational license for recreational purposes like visiting your friends, attending a sporting or social event, or operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Applying for Your Occupational License

Before you apply for an occupational license, check to see if you’re eligible. You can do that here.

If your conviction allows, you can submit your application immediately. The waiting period to apply may be longer depending on the violation date, an implied consent refusal, negligent homicide, great bodily harm and multiple offenses within five years. Here’s what you need to apply:

  • Complete a Wisconsin Drive License Application, form MV3001
  • Complete an Application for Occupational Operator License, form MV3027, where you will list where you will drive, the times of day you will drive and the purpose for your driving
  • Submit proof of completed alcohol assessment and participation in a driver safety plan (two or more OWI convictions)
  • Complete necessary tests, including vision screening
  • Provide SR-22 insurance certificate
  • Provide proof of identity and proof that you are legally present in the U.S.
  • Pay all court fees and a $50 IID filing fee (if court ordered)
  • Install IID in any vehicle you operate (if court ordered), that is registered to you (unless exempted by the court), and also in working operation
  • Intoxalock will provide proof of IID installation to the DMV

The application process takes about two hours, and depending upon the hours of the Department of Motor Vehicles, you may receive your occupational license the same day. 

Installing Your Ignition Interlock Device

Intoxalock has more than 135 authorized service center locations throughout Wisconsin. Our customer service representatives work with you to find a location closest to you and help you understand your ignition interlock requirements.

If you are court ordered to install an ignition interlock, you must install the device to regain your driving privileges. You can’t “wait out” your requirement to have your license reinstated.

For questions about installing a device or understanding Wisconsin ignition interlock requirements, please call (833) 623-0200. One of our state experts can help get you back on the road.


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