Updated on March 24th, 2021 at 05:39 pm

During the summer months, the great State of Wisconsin is invaded with Illinois drivers looking to get away from the craziness of “big city” life.  You can usually tell who they are as they fly on the highway with a Bears license plate…   They come for all reasons ranging from work to play, traveling to the likes of Wisconsin Dells, Door County, and the Packer Hall of Fame to see what a true football team looks like.  Usually, these travelers stay close to the hotel they are staying at, and may even be lucky enough to take a cab to and from the hotel.  However, Illinois drivers have to be very careful not to get pulled over for drunk driving in Wisconsin. If an Illinois driver is charged with driving under the influence in Wisconsin, they will face even harsher consequences than if they were pulled over in their home state. If you are an Illinois driver facing a Wisconsin OWI charge make sure you have a Wisconsin OWI attorney that understands the differences in legal systems and consequences you will face.

Illinois Drivers’ First Offense in Wisconsin

Illinois drivers face harsher penalties for a Wisconsin drunk driving conviction than a Wisconsin driver would.  For an Illinois driver, a first offense DUI in Wisconsin will be treated relatively the same as a second or third DUI offense by the Illinois Secretary of State.  More severe penalties result because the State of Illinois will typically drop a first offense drunk driving to a reckless driving.  Wisconsin will not drop down or plead down a drunk driving charge unless it is under extremely rare circumstances. That means that when the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports your DUI conviction to Illinois, they will potentially perceive it as a 2nd or 3rd DUI charge.  If this occurs, an Illinois driver may face a minimum of one year to a lifetime suspension of their driving privilege. In contrast, the suspension range for a Wisconsin DUI Charge ranges from 6-9 months.

Obtaining Wisconsin’s Occupational License versus Illinois’s Restricted Drivers Permit

Illinois laws differ from those in Wisconsin.  In Wisconsin, the process of getting an occupational license is clear cut: wait a certain amount of time, get the proper insurance, go to the DMV, fill-out a form, have it processed with the Department of Transportation, and if you qualify, obtain your occupational license.  However, Illinois’s Restricted Drivers Permit (RDP) program is discretionary, meaning that it is up to the State when you get it back.  Illinois drivers are able to obtain a restricted driving permit, but there is a much lengthier process, involving alcohol counseling and formal hearings.  If you are an Illinois driver charged with a Wisconsin DUI charge you need a Wisconsin DUI Attorney that understands the process from both ends, Wisconsin and Illinois. The process of protecting your license starts immediately.

Wisconsin DUI Attorney Nathan J. Dineen practices solely in Wisconsin OWI Defense. He understands the differences between the Wisconsin and Illinois legal system. He has experienced colleagues in Illinois who fight for Restricted Drivers Permits on a daily basis. Contact Attorney Nathan J. Dineen for a free consultation… (Bears fans optional.)