Driving to Wisconsin: Tips, Tricks, and Laws

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Nathan Porceng
Updated on May 9, 2022 · 5 min read
Wisconsin
’s highway system is 11,800 miles long and includes five “mainline” interstate routes, making for fun—if occasionally frustrating—driving experiences.
Wisconsin is a state full of charming towns, stunning vistas, and friendly people. Its roads are among the nation’s best, so driving through the state should be a pleasure as long as you do your research and plan ahead.
Jerry
, the
car insurance
quote comparator
super app
, will teach you everything you need to know about the routes to take and laws to obey when driving through America’s Dairyland. Read on to learn more about driving to Wisconsin, and how to save on your car insurance policy.
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The best routes for driving to Wisconsin

Whether you’re coming to the Badger State from
Washington
or
Texas
, we’ll help you find an awesome route for your trip. Here are some popular ones:
  • Seattle—Milwaukee (29 hours): Still upset that the Sonics left for Oklahoma? Pack your bags, hop onto I-90 and catch the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in action in one of the region’s coolest cities. 
  • Austin—Madison (18 hours): Just a two-day drive separates these hubs for live music. From the Barrymore Theatre to the High Noon Saloon, Wisconsin’s capital is always rocking.
  • Tallahassee—Thunder Bay (20 hours): Ditch that muggy Florida summer for a week relaxing by Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes.
  • New York City—Cedarburg: (14 hours): Sick of all the crowds and the noise? Visit this quaint Wisconsin town full of historic buildings and charming shops.

How good are Wisconsin’s roads?

Wisconsin’s roads rank
among the best
in the nation. They are well maintained and rarely congested, and the state boasts an extraordinarily low rate of highway deaths.
In 2020, 83.4% of Wisconsin’s road miles were rated as acceptable, up from 72.6% in 2015. The 14.8% improvement was the fifth-best in the nation for that time period.

Does Wisconsin have toll roads?

No. Wisconsin does not have any toll roads, making it one of the few states without them. Nowhere in Wisconsin experiences enough traffic to justify them. However, many drivers pass through Wisconsin on their way to
Chicago
, where the state of Illinois operates a tollway. 

How bad is Wisconsin traffic?

Even Wisconsin’s most populous cities, such as
Madison
and
Milwaukee
, are among the nation’s most driver-friendly when it comes to traffic. Unless there is an accident or a major snowstorm, traffic shouldn’t be much of an issue while driving through the state.
That said, you can make driving through Wisconsin’s bigger cities even smoother by avoiding rush hour in the urban areas! Try to pass through the major cities before 6 am or after 7 pm when there are fewer drivers on the road.
Key Takeaway Wisconsin has fairly nice roads. If you avoid rush hour and proceed cautiously during inclement weather, you should have no problem navigating America’s Dairyland. 

What are Wisconsin’s speeding laws?

Wisconsin has two types of speed limits: basic speed limits and absolute speed limits. Let’s break them down real quick, as well as the fines you’ll face if you violate them.
  • Basic speed limits: You must always drive at a speed that’s safe for your current conditions and environment. For example, while a stretch of I-90 may be posted at 55 mph, you may need to drive slower than that if you’re caught in a Wisconsin snowstorm. 
  • Absolute speed limits: You must not drive faster than the posted speed. It’s not complicated—if the sign says 30, you’re speeding if you go higher than 30!

Fines for speeding in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, penalties for speeding tickets vary depending on your circumstances. First offenses may net you a ticket of anywhere from $30 to $300. Your second offense may cost you between $60 and $600.
Getting a speeding ticket will also
add points to your driving record
and raise your insurance rate. If you accumulate 12 points in 12 months, your Wisconsin driver’s license will be suspended. Wisconsin assigns the following point values for speeding offenses:
  • 1 to 10 mph over the limit—3 points
  • 11 to 19 mph over the limit—4 points
  • 20 mph or more over the limit—6 points
Keep your monthly payment low by driving the posted speed limit and using
Jerry
to compare quotes from leading car insurance providers.

What are Wisconsin’s alcohol laws?

Wisconsin law
forbids drivers under 21 years old from operating motor vehicles with any amount of alcohol in their systems. 
Drivers over the age of 21 may not operate motor vehicles if they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, are under the influence of an intoxicant, have a detectable amount of a controlled substance in their blood, or are under the influence of a controlled substance or any other drug.
If a driver has committed three or more Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) infractions, they may not operate a motor vehicle with a BAC greater than 0.02%.
It is also illegal to drive with an open container in Wisconsin. Alcoholic beverages with broken seals must be transported in the trunk or, if your car doesn’t have a trunk, in a portion of the vehicle not normally accessed by passengers. You may not transport unsealed alcoholic beverages in your glove compartment.
Alcohol violations—
especially OWIs
—can ruin lives irreparably, and even one drink can make you more dangerous on the road. If you’re driving in Wisconsin, drive sober and safely.
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Can you use headphones while driving in Wisconsin?

Technically, there’s no Wisconsin law that explicitly forbids you from wearing headphones while driving. However, anything that inhibits you from paying complete attention to your surroundings, including headphones and earbuds, may increase your likelihood of causing an accident
For maximum safety, keep your headphones stowed while driving. 

What are some of Wisconsin’s best road trips?

With thousands of miles of roads and an abundance of charming towns and natural beauty, Wisconsin offers drivers several excellent road trip options. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Cranberry Highway: Explore a winding, 50-mile stretch of century-old cranberry bogs while transiting through central Wisconsin, from Wisconsin Rapids to Nekoosa.
  • Lake Superior Byway: Best enjoyed in the summertime, on this 70-mile road trip you can enjoy stunning beaches out one window and lush forests out another.
  • Highway 42: Bask in breathtaking fall foliage on this world-famous highway, twisting through Wisconsin’s northernmost tip. 
  • Elkhart Lake: Just an 80-drive north from Milwaukee, you can go waterskiing in the morning and then catch a race at the Road America racecourse in the afternoon.

How to find affordable car insurance in Wisconsin

If you ever end up driving through a Wisconsin snowstorm, you’re going to want the best possible
car insurance
policy.
Jerry
, the App Store’s #1 insurance app, will help you find the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
Just download Jerry, answer some quick questions, and Jerry will provide you with a selection of quotes drawn from a pool of over 50 of the nation’s leading insurance providers. The whole process takes less than a minute! No phone calls. No needless forms. No long wait times.
Jerry saves its drivers headaches and money. The average Jerry driver saves over $800 per year on their car insurance!
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FAQs

No Wisconsin city experiences bad traffic relative to the rest of the United States. Mount Pleasant and Racine have the state’s highest rates of driving incidents (accidents, tickets, and citations). Madison and Milwaukee rank among the nation’s top cities for driver quality.
I-90 crosses Wisconsin from east to west at a length of 187 miles, which you could probably cover in under four hours. However, with a highway system running 11,800 miles in total, you could spend days driving through the Badger State if you wanted to.

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