How Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws Compare

Every state in the nation has a law that makes drunk driving illegal. Most states have additional drunk driving laws to prevent drunk driving accidents or punish drunk drivers. These laws vary among the 50 states. Here, we will look at Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin laws to see how they compare and where each state can improve, according to MADD. Additionally, we will provide useful information for victims of drunk driving accidents.

Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws

There is a lot of work that can be done in Wisconsin to improve drunk driving laws. According to MADD, Wisconsin currently:

  • Has an automatic license revocation law
  • Makes child endangerment a DUI misdemeanor
  • Has a no refusal law that results in an expedited warrant and an interlock device or criminal charges for someone who refuses an alcohol detection test

One of the most important things that Wisconsin could do is make any drunk driving offense at least a criminal misdemeanor, as every other state in this country already does. Wisconsin could also improve its laws by enacting an all-offender interlock law with compliance-based removal, allowing sobriety checkpoints and using them at least monthly, and enacting a law that makes child endangerment by DUI a felony.

Illinois Drunk Driving Laws

Illinois has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the United States. In Illinois:

  • There is an interlock ignition law for all offenders and compliance-based removal
  • There are sobriety checkpoints that are done at least monthly
  • There is an automatic license revocation law, and interlock devices are required upon a first-time arrest
  • Child endangerment is a DUI misdemeanor but not a DUI felony
  • There is a no refusal law that allows for an expedited warrant and an interlock device or criminalized refusal if a suspect refuses alcohol testing

Illinois was an early adopter of an all-offender interlock ignition law, and the state saw a 13% decrease in drunk driving deaths in the first decade the law was in effect. However, Illinois could strengthen its DUI laws by making child endangerment a DUI felony.

Iowa Drunk Driving Laws

Iowa still has improvements to make in its DUI laws. As of 2019, the laws in Iowa include:

  • An all offender interlock ignition law, but the law does not include compliance-based removal
  • An automatic license revocation law that requires interlock devices upon a first-time arrest
  • A law that makes child endangerment a DUI misdemeanor
  • A no refusal law that results in an interlock device or criminal charge if a suspect refuses alcohol testing

Currently, Iowa does not have sobriety checkpoints. The state could strengthen its drunk driving laws by adding sobriety checkpoints at least monthly. Additionally, the state could strengthen its drunk driving laws by adding a compliance-based removal requirement to its interlock ignition law, making child endangerment DUI a felony, and expediting arrest warrants for DUI suspects who refuse alcohol testing.

Laws Don’t Prevent All Drunk Driving Accidents

Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa can pass laws that discourage drunk driving. Criminal laws may deter some drunk drivers. However, drunk driving will remain a problem as long as drivers choose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

If a drunk driver hurts you or kills a family member, then you have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit regardless of whether the state pursues criminal charges. While criminal charges won’t result in a financial recovery for you as a DUI victim, a personal injury lawsuit may allow you to recover for past and future medical costs, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, and emotional suffering. In some cases, you may also be able to recover punitive damages.

Our Midwest personal injury lawyers are here to help you protect your rights. Insurance companies know that we mean business and are often willing to settle with us, but if a fair settlement can’t be reached, we will be ready to go to court to protect your recovery. Call us, or start a live chat with us, to learn more today.


Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.