Updated on February 5th, 2024 at 08:51 pm

Watch Out Illinois Drivers! A Wisconsin DUI Hurts… A Lot!

Illinois Drivers Beware! If you are charged with a WI DUI you face much harsher consequences than you would in Illinois. Your Wisconsin DUI penalties will also be more severe than a Wisconsin driver. Why? There are vast differences between the Illinois and Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Legal System.

Wisconsin DUI First Offense for an Illinois Driver

A First Offense Illinois DUI is usually dropped to a lesser charge (a.k.a. a non-alcohol related offense, i.e. reckless driving). If an Illinois driver has an actual DUI conviction on their record, it usually means it is their second or potentially third. Whereas, in Wisconsin, a first offense WI DUI is a lesser charge, a traffic citation, for a Wisconsin driver and does not get plead down or dropped.

When Wisconsin’s D.O.T. reports the Wisconsin DUI Conviction to Illinois, the State of Illinois will treat it as potentially a second or third offense. Illinois penalties are harsh for repeat drunk driving offenders. An Illinois driver will likely face license suspension between one year and life. A Wisconsin first offense DUI license suspension ranges from 6-9 months.

Illinois Drivers With a Wisconsin OWI: Temporary License

Wisconsin offers its residents a chance to apply for an Occupational Driver’s License. The process is quick and simple. Getting a Wisconsin Occupational License is a right and is not discretionary. Illinois offers a Restricted Driver’s Permit (RDP). This is a program that is at the discretion of the state, meaning you have to fight to get your license back. The process is lengthy, involving formal hearings and completion of alcohol counseling.

What is a Wisconsin Occupational License?

A WI occupational license is a restricted license available to drivers whose driving licenses have been revoked or suspended. The license allows you to keep your job and run your household smoothly.

Unlike regular licenses, occupational licenses limit when and where you can drive. You can operate your vehicle in connection with:

  • Work
  • School related activities
  • Performing essential household duties

You are also allowed to drive to other places you may stipulate in the license during the specified times. Occupational licenses cannot be used for commercial motor vehicles or recreational purposes like attending parties.

How Many Driving Hours Does an Occupational License in Wisconsin Allow?

Occupational license drivers are limited to 12 hours of drive time in a day and 60 hours a week. This time can be divided according to your schedule, and each day can have different hours.

Remember, the occupational hours are for the time you are driving your vehicle and not the time you are away from home. That said, Wisconsin doesn’t provide a grace period. So, if your occupational hours end at 5:00 pm and you get stuck in traffic driving home at 5:10 pm, you may be charged with driving outside stipulated hours. Because of this, allowing yourself some wiggle room is recommended to account for unforeseen circumstances.

Fee for Changing Occupational Hours

If your schedule changes and the stipulated driving hours no longer work, you can change them at the DMV. Although there are no limits to the times you can change the schedule, there’s a fee.

If I Don’t Schedule my 60 Driving Hours, Can I Save Them for Future Needs?

There’s no advantage to not using up all your 60 driving hours since you cannot save them for a future date. Even if you don’t need all the 60 driving hours, account for unexpected issues like weather changes and traffic.

How Much Does it Cost to Get an Occupational License in Wisconsin?

To get an occupational license after a DUI, you’ll fill out an application, pay $50, get the stipulated tests done, including drug and vision screening and submit the SR-22.

The SR-22 verifies you have car insurance after being classified as a high-risk driver. You’ll need to contact your insurance provider to file this for you. If your insurance company cancels your policy, you’ll need to find another provider that’ll file it for you at a fee. You’ll also pay higher insurance rates after your DUI.

Is There a Waiting Period for an Occupational License in Wisconsin?

Every suspension or revocation imposed by the court, or the Department, comes with an occupational license waiting period. By default, the state provides 15 days to become eligible for an occupational driver’s license from the start of the revocation period.

You’ll have to serve all the waiting periods if you have multiple suspension or revocation cases. The waiting periods for different cases are as follows:

  • Demerit points – there’s no waiting period
  • Underage alcohol operation – no waiting period
  • HTO and Repeat HTO – 2 years
  • Drug convictions
    • First criminal record– there’s no waiting period
    • Second DUI criminal record– 60 days
    • Third and subsequent convictions – 90 days
  • Non-payment of child support – there’s no waiting period
  • Wisconsin DUI violations
    • Blood Alcohol Content – there’s no waiting period
    • Operating while intoxicated conviction – for the first conviction, there’s no waiting period, but the second and subsequent conviction records have a 60-day waiting period
    • Causing an injury while under the influence – 60 days
    • Implied consent refusal – The first, second, third, and more convictions have 30 days, 90 days, and 120 days respectively
    • Causing bodily harm or death of a victim while intoxicated – 120 days

What Can You do If Your Occupational License Application is Denied?

If you are denied your occupational license because of having three OWI offenses in five years or have accrued 24+ demerit points in a year, you can petition the circuit court. However, your waiting period should be over.

In the petition, include a copy of your regular driver record, the denial letter from the DMV, the occupational license form, and the non-refundable occupational license issuance fee. If the court accepts your request, take the order to the DMV customer service center. If you’ve met the eligibility requirements, you’ll get an occupational license.

Can You Drive in Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, or Michigan with a Wisconsin Occupational Driver License?

If you wish to drive in another state, you should ensure the other state allows driving with an occupational license from Wisconsin. Acceptance of a Wisconsin occupational license as a valid license varies from state to state.

Wisconsin DUI IL Driver: What Should I Do Now?

Make no mistake! You are in for a fight! You have to aggressively fight your Wisconsin OWI in Wisconsin and in Illinois! A typical Plea Bargain deal that inexperienced criminal defense attorneys will take will hurt you more than you know.

Wisconsin DUI Defense Attorney Nathan J. Dineen works closely with many Illinois DUI Defense Attorneys to work through the entire process. Attorney Dineen practices 100% DUI Defense in Wisconsin. He understands the legal process and consequences an Illinois driver will face when charged with a Wisconsin DUI. Contact him at 877-384-6800 for a Free Case Review.