wisconsin driver information
Before your next ride in America's Dairyland, how about a nice, cold glass of driver facts? We'll help you get up to speed on road laws and stats (plus some notable trivia) to help simplify motoring in Wisconsin.
Licensed drivers: 4,114,622
Registered vehicles: 5,482,518
The penalty point system
If you're convicted of a traffic violation in Wisconsin, a certain number of points, from 2—6, may be applied to your license. The number of points relates to the severity of the violation (2 points for obstructing traffic, 6 points for reckless driving).
Tallying 12 or more points in a year can lead to a suspended license for at least 2 months.
Reporting car accidents
We recommend calling the police to the scene of any car accident. But you're legally required to report any accident that involves one or more of the following:
- Any injuries
- $1,000 or more in damage to one person's property
- $200 or more in damage to government property (motor vehicles not included)
If the police do not investigate the accident, you'll need to file an accident report with the DMV within 10 days.
Drunk driving in Wisconsin
A first-time conviction of OWI (operating under the influence) can result in a fine of up to $300 dollars and a 6–9 month suspension of your drivers license. Repeat offenses (or causing an injury during a first one) can merit additional penalties and jail time.
Distracted driving in Wisconsin
Talking on cell phones while driving is legally permitted (as of August 2012) — but texting behind the wheel is not. The ban on texting and driving is a primary law, which means you can be pulled over and cited for texting and driving without committing any other violation.
Speeding is easily the most common type of traffic violation committed in Wisconsin (more than 200,000 violations in 2010 alone). You can avoid a speeding ticket by checking the signs and following these common posted limits on various roads:
|Designated "rustic" road
|Residential- & business-district highway
|Park and recreation area
Moving to Wisconsin
New residents have 60 days to exchange their out-of-state drivers license for a Wisconsin one. You'll also need to apply for a new vehicle title and license plate.
Find out what you'll need to bring to the Wisconsin DMV.
The student-driver process in Wisconsin
The graduated licensing process in Wisconsin involves an instruction permit, a probationary license, and finally, a full license. Here are some high-level factors to bear in mind while you make your way through the process.
Wisconsin instruction permit requirements
- Be at least 15 1/2 years old
- Be enrolled in a drivers ed course (if not already completed)
- Pass a vision screening
- Pass a knowledge test
Instruction permit restrictions
Having your Wisconsin instruction permit allows you to drive as long as you're accompanied by one of the following:
- A parent or spouse 19 or older who's had a valid license for at least 2 years
- A certified driving instructor
- An adult 21 or older who's had a valid license for at least 2 years and has written permission from the driver's parent or guardian (if driver is under 18)
Wisconsin probationary license requirements (if under 18)
- Complete a drivers ed course
- Have a learners permit for at least 6 months
- Complete 30 hours of driver training (10 at night) with an adult
- Pass a road skills test
- Have had no moving violations
Probationary license restrictions (if under 18)
Having a Wisconsin probationary license allows you to drive on your own under the following conditions:
- For the first 9 months of the probationary period, no driving alone at night (midnight to 5 a.m.) unless going to/from work or school
- For the first 9 months of the probationary period, no driving with more than 1 passenger (family members not included)
Getting your unrestricted drivers license
Young drivers in Wisconsin can shed the above limitations and earn an unrestricted Wisconsin drivers license upon turning 18.
Car insurance in Wisconsin
See what coverages are required in your state and how Esurance can help you save.
Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles
Find convenient info on locations and hours of operation.
Brush up on winter driving tips
Find out why winter driving is dangerous and what you can do to boost your safety behind the wheel.