Penalties for underage drunk driving are severe

Any driver in Wisconsin may deal with fines and loss of his or her driver’s license after an Operating While Intoxicated conviction. However, underage individuals who get convicted of drunk driving may encounter even greater penalties. Immediate penalties may include fines, demerit points and license suspension. Underage individuals who lose their licenses due to OWI convictions may still be eligible for occupational licenses. Additionally, an OWI conviction may be confidential if it is part of a juvenile record for a person who is under 17 years old. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that there were over 10,000 fatalities from alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes in 2017. This number represents nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities for that year. Additionally, 15% of drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2017 were between the ages of 16 and 20 years old. 

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation website describes the state’s strict penalties for individuals under 21 who get OWI convictions. Under the state’s Absolute Sobriety Law, an individual’s first drunk driving offense may result in four demerit points, a $200 fine and a three-month driver’s license suspension. If there was a person under 16 years old in the vehicle at the time of the OWI offense, the underage driver may get twice as many demerit points and a doubled fine. Additionally, the suspension period may be six months instead of three. This law may allow an individual to be immediately eligible for an occupational license to drive to work and/or school. Wisconsin residents under 21 years old must also follow the state’s laws that prohibit driving while intoxicated by drugs or the combination of drugs and alcohol.