In Wisconsin, traffic violations or offenses can have a serious impact on your life. Depending on the type of offense and the person’s driving history, the penalties you face can range from a fine to jail time, to a license suspension or revocation.
If you are like most people, the thought of potentially losing your license is very unnerving. How will you get to work? How will you get your children to and from school, practice, and other activities? Losing your license can have a very serious impact on your life.
Wisconsin traffic law can be very confusing and overwhelming. It is important that you contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys at Brabazon Law Office to help you through this process. We have a proven track record of successfully representing individuals facing traffic offenses. Whether you intend to fight your charges all the way to a trial or need someone to guide you through the process and find the best resolution possible, the traffic attorney's at Brabazon Law Office can help.
There are many different types of traffic offenses. The following is a list of common traffic offenses under Wisconsin law:
• Speeding violations
• Operating without a valid license
• Operating after revocation
• Operating after suspension
• Operating while intoxicated
• Operating a motor vehicle with a prohibited alcohol content
• Reckless driving – endangering safety
• Reckless driving – causing great bodily harm
• Failure to obey traffic signs/signals
• Fleeing/alluding an officer
• Failure to stop
• Hit and run
Traffic convictions remain on an individual’s driving records for five years from the date of conviction. However, convictions involving alcohol (such as drunk driving) and some commercial violations may remain on an individual’s driving record for life.
The penalties associated with traffic offenses vary greatly. The penalty for some offenses may be as simple as a fine. However, with certain types of offenses the potential penalties can be very serious. The range of penalties includes warnings, fines, suspension/revocation of operating privileges, and jail time.
Reckless driving is committed by an individual who endangers the safety of any person or property by the negligent operation of a vehicle on a highway.
In order to be found guilty of reckless driving, the prosecution must prove the following elements:
1: That the defendant operated a vehicle on a highway;
2: That the defendant operated a vehicle in a manner constituting
criminal negligence; and
3: That the defendant's operation of the vehicle in a manner amounting
to criminal negligence endangered the safety of any person or property.
The penalties associated with reckless driving vary depending on whether it is a first offense or a second and subsequent offense. The first reckless driving offense an individual commits is punishable only by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $200. Such an offense is a civil forfeiture. Therefore, the burden of proof is to a reasonable certainty by evidence which is "clear, satisfactory, and convincing," not the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required in criminal offenses.
The second and subsequent violations within four years are punishable as crimes: fine of $50 to $500 or one year in the county jail or both [see § 346.65(1)]. Therefore, for second and subsequent offenses, the burden of proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt.
A first offense of driving after revocation may be charged as either a criminal or a civil offense. How the offense is charged depends on why the driver’s operating privileges was revoked. Regardless of how the first offense was charged, any second or subsequent OAR offense will be a criminal charge.
In order to be convicted of operating after revocation, the prosecution must prove the following:
1: The individual operated a motor vehicle on a highway;
2: The individual’s operating privilege was duly revoked at the time
the individual operated the motor vehicle; and
3: The individual knew that his or her operating privilege was revoked
In order to be convicted of operating after suspension, the prosecution must prove the following:
1: That the individual operated a motor vehicle on a highway;
2: That the individual's operating privilege was duly suspended at the
time the individual operated the motor vehicle; and
Unlike in the case of a revocation, here, the prosecution is not required to provide proof that the individual knew his or her license had been suspended.
An individual’s driving privilege remains suspended until it is reinstated.
If your operating privilege has been revoked, the following is a list of tasks you will need to complete prior to having your license reinstated:
1: Find out how long you need to file proof of insurance.
2: If you currently have acceptable proof of insurance filed, check
your financial responsibility status.
3: File proof of insurance (form SR22).
4: Go to a DMV service center (except express centers) and complete the
Wisconsin Driver License (DL)/identification card (ID) Application
5: Bring a parent or legal guardian to sign as a sponsor if you are under the
age of 18.
6: Provide proof of identity.
7: Provide proof of legal presence (if applicable).
8: Provide proof that you are a US citizen, lawful permanent or
conditional resident or temporary visitor.
9: Pass required examinations (a road test fee may be required).
10: Pay the reinstatement fee.
11: If your license is revoked or suspended in another state you will
need to satisfy that state’s requirements in order to have your
license reinstated in Wisconsin.
You can check your eligibility status online (see links at bottom of page).
An individual’s operating privileges remain revoked until the privilege is reinstated. The following is a step-by-step directive on getting your license reinstated if you have a Wisconsin driver license in your possession:
1: Mail your registration payment (check or money order) to the DOT.
Be sure to include you name, address, date of birth, license number
and social security number.
2: File proof of insurance with the DOT (Form SR22).
3: Bring a parent or legal guardian to sign as a sponsor if you are under
the age of 18.
4: After the suspension time has elapsed, confirm that all necessary
documentation was received and that your license is valid
online (see links at bottom of the page).
The following is a step-by-step directive on getting your license reinstated if you DO NOT have a Wisconsin driver license or if your license has expired:
1: Apply for a duplicate license or renewal at a local DMV office
(except express offices).
2: Provide proof of identity.
3: Provide proof of US citizenship.
4: Pay the reinstatement fee.
5: If your license is revoked or suspended in another state, you must
comply with that state’s reinstatement requirements before you license
will be reinstated in Wisconsin.
If your license has been revoked or suspended and you are not a Wisconsin resident, you will be required to pay the reinstatement fee. You can confirm that your fee has been received by checking your eligibility status online (see link below). After the revocation or suspension period is complete, you can confirm that your eligibility status online.
Demerit points are assessed to drivers when convicted of a traffic violation. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) receives records of all traffic convictions from local courts. Drivers who hold a probationary license are assessed double points for the second and all subsequent points.
An individual’s license will be suspended for a minimum of 2 months where that individual has accumulated 12 or more demerit points in one year.
If an individual attends an approved traffic safety course, they may be able to reduce the number of points accumulated by 3 points. However, there are limitations on an individual’s ability to reduce the number of demerit points accumulated. Contact an attorney to learn more about rules and restrictions on reducing demerit points.
Check your reinstatement eligibility through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation online here.
For a list of locations that provide traffic safety courses here.