What Happens When You Get a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin

A 2nd DUI in Wisconsin doesn’t necessarily mean jail time, but it can depend on context. Learn the full extent of the penalties for this repeat offense here.
Written by Drew Waterstreet
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
A 2nd DUI conviction in Wisconsin will result in a minimum penalty of $150, six-month license revocation, and one year of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or sobriety program—jail time is not mandatory but you'll definitely see a spike in your
Wisconsin car insurance rates
While these punishments may seem pretty lenient (comparatively speaking to other states across the country), certain contexts can ramp up the harshness and even include time behind bars.
So if you already have one DUI under your belt, it’s important to understand the potential seriousness of acquiring a 2nd conviction.
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What is a 2nd offense DUI in Wisconsin?

According to
Wisconsin DUI laws
, impaired driving is legally referred to as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) instead of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). But both can be used interchangeably. So regardless of the term used, here are the conditions for conviction:
  • You’re 21 or older and have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher
  • You’re under 21 and have a BAC of 0.01% or higher
  • Detectable amount (blood test) of a restricted, controlled, or other drug-related substance that renders you incapable of safely driving
A DUI conviction stays on your record for 10 years in Wisconsin. So if you’re arrested for another DUI within ten years of the first offense (including out-of-state convictions), your repeat mistake will count as a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin
However, not all OWI/DUIs are considered equal. We’ll get into penalties next, but here is some context that upgrades your offense to an Aggravated OWI/DUI:
  • BAC that is twice the legal limit (i.e., 0.15% or above)
  • Having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher while a minor (person under the age of 16) is in the vehicle with you
  • You had a BAC of 0.08 or higher and caused an injury or death in an auto collision
Key Takeaway If your subsequent impaired driving arrest is within 10 years of your first conviction, you will be penalized under the rules of a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin.

What is the punishment for a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin?

So what kind of punishment are you facing with a 2nd DUI? Well, it depends.
If your 2nd DUI is more than 10 years after your first offense and you’ve never caused great bodily harm or death due to intoxicated driving, your subsequent arrest will be penalized as a 1st offense.
If this describes your situation, these are the punishments you’ll be up against:
  • $150 to $300 in fines (not including fees and penalty assessments)
  • Six- to nine-month license revocation
  • One year of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or 24/7 sobriety program
  • No jail time required
If your 2nd DUI is within 10 years of your first offense or you have previously caused great bodily harm or death due to intoxicated driving, your subsequent arrest will be punished as a 2nd DUI.
As a repeat offender, here are increased punishments you’ll be facing:
  • Five days to six months of jail time
  • $350 to $1,1000 in fines (not including fees and penalty assessments)
  • 12- to 18-month license revocation (in addition to confinement length)
  • One year to 18 months of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or 24/7 sobriety program (in addition to confinement length)
But these punishments are just the tip of the iceberg. If your 2nd offense is categorized as an Aggravated OWI/DUI, you could be facing exponentially worse penalties. 
Key Takeaway The best case scenario for a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin is a $150 fine, six-month license revocation, and a one-year treatment plan.

How much does a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin cost in the long run?

The minimum fine of $150 for a 2nd DUI offense in Wisconsin might not seem like much, but when you take all the long-term consequences into account, you could be on the hook for over $10,000.
Don’t believe us? Let’s break it down. 

Fees, penalty assessments, and DUI school

The financial penalty for obtaining a 2nd DUI against your driving record is much more severe than the law implies. On top of the $150 to $1,100 fine (depending on your context), you may also be responsible for a $435 OWI surcharge, $50 IID Surcharge, $240 occupational license (if eligible), and/or a $1,500 driver safety/sobriety plan.

Alternative transportation

If you don’t qualify for an occupation license (only to drive between home and work or school), you will need to find a new mode of transportation. 
You may be able to get rides from friends and family or use public transit. In that case, this may not be a significant financial hit. But the costs of ride services can add up, especially if your limited transportation options cost you work opportunities. 

Increased car insurance costs

The lowest insurance prices are only offered to car owners with a long reputation for safe and responsible driving. And if we’re being honest, a DUI (let alone a 2nd offense) doesn’t exactly communicate these values. 
As a result, insurance providers jack up rates by an average of 80% after a DUI conviction to account for the assumed risk. Apply that to the average insurance rate of $2,261 per year in the state, and you’re looking at paying an extra $1,800 annually just to fulfill
Wisconsin car insurance laws

How to avoid jail time for a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin

As we’ve covered so far, jail time is not mandatory for a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin, but there are certain circumstances where it is on the table. So if it is in your cards, you’ll want to take a couple of steps to try and minimize the penalties.
  • Hire a defense attorney. Reducing the penalties for a 2nd DUI conviction can be difficult, so you’ll want a trusted professional on your side to navigate this situation. 
  • Plead guilty to a “wet reckless” charge. This lesser offense carries lighter penalties and can help you avoid jail time.
In the best-case scenario, the minimum penalty for a “wet reckless” is simply a $25 fine with no imprisonment (if you have no prior reckless driving convictions). So naturally, you’ll want your lawyer to advocate for this option as much as possible. But ultimately, it’s up to the judge how your fate will be determined.

How to find affordable car insurance in Wisconsin after a 2nd DUI

Before you can get your license back following a 2nd DUI, you must file a
Wisconsin SR-22 certificate
with the DMV to prove you have coverage that is compliant with the state's legal requirements.
Gathering affordable quotes with an SR-22 certificate on your record can be challenging. It’s pretty much a big red flag for insurance companies, so you’ll undoubtedly face an uphill battle until your record clears.
But not all hope is lost! The best way to navigate a hostile insurance market after a DUI is with
a qualified insurance broker
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No, a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin will not result in a felony. Only after your 4th offense will felonies start to appear on your record.
Jail time is not mandatory for a 2nd DUI in Wisconsin, but it is on the table. If your prior conviction was within 10 years or great bodily harm was previously caused, a 2nd offense can net you five days to six months of confinement.
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