Wisconsin Drunk-Driver Accident Insurance Law
Expect your auto insurance rates to skyrocket if you cause an accident while
From August 15 through September 7, 2009, Wisconsin law-enforcement officers arrested 930 drivers for drunken driving during a "Drunk
Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest" crackdown. These drivers and other Wisconsin drivers who choose to drive while intoxicated face
numerous penalties, from license suspension and revocation to fines and jail time. In addition, they risk losing their auto insurance coverage or
seeing their insurance rates increase dramatically.
Wisconsin Drunk-Driving Laws
o In Wisconsin, drivers over the age of 21 cannot operate a motor vehicle if they have a blood alcohol concentration
(BAC) of 0.08 or greater, are under the influence of an intoxicant, have any detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance
in their blood, or are under the influence of a controlled substance or any other drug. "Under the influence" means that if a law
enforcement officer determines that alcohol or a controlled substance affected your driving, you can be arrested regardless of your
BAC and blood test levels.
The law is even stricter for underage drivers and drivers with multiple Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) convictions. Underage
drivers (under 21) cannot have any amount of alcohol in their systems, and drivers with three or more OWIs must have a BAC that's
less than 0.02.
Wisconsin Driving Records
o In Wisconsin, an OWI conviction remains on the driver's driving record for a lifetime, which is defined as 55 years.
Effect on Insurance Rates
o An OWI conviction puts a driver in a high-risk category and causes insurance premiums to increase. The average
premium for auto insurance in Wisconsin in 2008 was $635.59, among the lowest in the nation; however, the cost of insurance can
be two or even three times higher with an OWI conviction.
Effects on Insurance for Underage Drivers
o In Wisconsin, parents whose underage children are convicted of an OWI may find that their insurance company will
cancel their policy or refuse to renew it. At the very least, their insurance rates will increase: A survey by the Wisconsin
Commissioner of Insurance found rate increases ranging from 47 percent to 300 percent after an underage OWI conviction. The
rate increase remains in effect for at least three years, or until the underage driver is no longer a member of the household and on
the insurance policy.
o Drivers who receive two or more OWI convictions must file an SR-22 form certifying that they have obtained liability
insurance from a Wisconsin-licensed insurance company. This step shows the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that a
driver has auto insurance. The driver will need to keep the SR-22 insurance for three years. If the driver cancels the insurance, the
insurance company will notify the Department of Transportation.
Wisconsin Automobile Insurance Plan
o If drivers have trouble finding insurance after an OWI conviction, they can apply for insurance through the Wisconsin
Automobile Insurance Plan (WAIP). This program provides auto insurance to drivers who cannot otherwise get coverage. Because
the drivers are considered a higher risk, insurance rates tend to be higher for insurance purchased through this program.