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What Every Wisconsin Driver Needs to Know About Drunk Driving…Even If You Always Drive Sober

Alcohol and car keys: a dangerous combination for everyoneDrunk driving, and the fight against it, is not new. For more than a century, some states have had laws that outlaw drinking and driving. State laws have progressed, national campaigns have been launched, and non-profit organizations have worked hard to reduce drunk driving accident fatalities.

It Is Against the Law to Drive While Intoxicated in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, a driver may face criminal penalties for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). A driver is considered intoxicated if the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of:

  • 0.08 percent or higher, for drivers age 21 or older.
  • 0.02 percent or higher, for drivers under age 21.
  • 0.04 percent or higher, for drivers of any age who operate commercial vehicles.

Criminal penalties include significant fines, substantial jail time, and license suspension. Additionally, a drunk driver may face a civil personal injury lawsuit for any injuries or deaths that resulted from the crash.

Yet, Drunk Driving Remains a Significant Problem in Wisconsin

On a statewide level, drunk driving accidents remain serious and deadly problems. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

  • Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunk driving in the country.
  • In 2012, 223 people died and almost 3,000 people were hurt in Wisconsin drunk driving accidents.
  • In 2012, 36 percent of fatal Wisconsin traffic accidents involved alcohol.

On a personal level, a fatal Wisconsin drunk driving crash is devastating. Whether you have lost a spouse, parent, child, relative or friend, you are mourning a loss that should not have happened when it did. Your loved one’s life was ended and yours was turned upside-down because of someone else’s careless decision to drink and drive.

What to Do If You’ve Been Hurt or a Loved One Has Been Killed in a Wisconsin Drunk Driving Car Crash

As with other types of car accident cases, you will need to prove that another driver was liable for your injuries in order to recover damages. Evidence of drunk driving such as any tests performed by the police at the accident scene, or any evidence of drunk driving that you noticed will be relevant to your claim of damages.

Your damages may include compensation for your past, current and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs (including funeral costs, if applicable), and pain and suffering.

Help Prevent Future Drunk Driving Crashes

To stay safe and avoid a drunk driver accident, you should:

  • Be observant. The first defense against being involved in an alcohol-related accident is to be observant of other drivers. Noticing signs of a typical drunk driver—swerving, braking erratically, and driving extremely slowly—will allow you to make the appropriate adjustments to avoid them.
  • Call authorities. Once you have noticed that a driver may be intoxicated, you should call the police right away. Keeping these drivers off the road will keep you and others safe.
  • Stay away. If you believe that a driver may be drunk, stay well away from him. Drunk drivers are unpredictable and often make sudden, erratic moves. If there is no safe place to drive, pull over and wait until it is safe to continue.

Additionally, you can help raise awareness about the seriousness of drunk driving and about how to prevent accidents by sharing this article on Facebook or Twitter.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham