Your teen will soon be a new driver. You’ve been there every step of the way so far, and your state and local governments have, too.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is in charge of licensing for all drivers in Wisconsin. All written exams and behind-the-wheel tests required for a driver’s license can be performed at any Department of Motor Vehicles service center.
Please check in advance for locations, hours, fees, plus acceptable forms of identification your teen will need to present when applying for each stage of licensing. Study materials to help your teen get ready for the exams are also available. Keep in mind that as a parent or legal guardian, Wisconsin law authorizes you to withdraw consent to drive for your teen driver under age 18. This procedure begins with a notarized letter to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
State and local police enforce traffic laws and investigate crashes. Remind your teen that police can and will enforce all requirements on safety belt use, drinking and driving and other laws. Breaking the law can lead to fines, license suspension and other penalties. Talk to your teen about these and other consequences, and explain what to do if stopped by police.
- If stopped by the police, teens should expect to present a valid license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.
- If stopped as a driver or passenger, teens should always cooperate and be respectful with law enforcement.
- If in any kind of situation involving law enforcement, teens should talk to their parents about it, because this can create a learning experience.
If your teen gets a ticket or is involved in a crash, it could lead to a court appearance. Judges deal seriously and directly with teen traffic violations. They can assess fines and suspend driving privileges for traffic offenses — even for a first offense. In Wisconsin, parents must accompany teens to all court appearances.
Important Wisconsin Laws and
How They Affect Teen Drivers
Graduated driver licensing (GDL) violations
Traffic violations related to GDL restrictions can result in points assessed to your teen’s driving record, fines set by the court and delayed advancement to the next level of licensure or the repeat of a level.
Operating while intoxicated in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, drivers age 21 and over with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more can be charged with an operating while intoxicated (OWI) violation. Drivers under age 21 are required by law to maintain “absolute sobriety,” which, for them, means any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal.
Penalties for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated result in:
- License revocation for up to nine months.
- Six points on your driving record.
- Payment of a fine of up to $300.
- All penalties are increased with subsequent arrests and convictions.
Wisconsin alcohol purchase, consumption or possession law
A person under age 21 who is found guilty of a violation of state law or local ordinance relating to illegal consumption, possession, purchase or receipt of alcohol, regardless of whether a vehicle was involved faces penalties that can result in the suspension of his or her driving privileges.
Driver, passenger and child passenger safety belt laws
Here’s a summary of the passenger restraint laws in Wisconsin:
- Safety belts are required for the driver and all passengers.
- Children ages 4 up to 8 years and also weighing more than 40 pounds are required to be properly secured in a booster seat. If taller than 57" or weighing more than 80 pounds, they must wear a safety belt.
- Children ages 1 until 4 and weighing more than 20 pounds must be properly secured in a forward-facing child restraint system. If they weigh more than 40 pounds, they must be properly secured in a booster seat.
- Children must be properly secured in a rear-facing child restraint system until the age of 1 and a weight of 20 pounds.
Failure to comply with these laws can result in fines set by the court — generally $10.
Wisconsin speed limit laws
Unless otherwise posted, the speed limits on Wisconsin roadways are as follows:
- Rural interstates: 65 mph
- Highways and freeways: 55 mph
- Other roads: 55 mph
- Outlying parts of cities and villages: 35 mph
- Residential and business streets: 25 mph
- School zones: 15 mph
Violations of these laws can result in fines set by the court and assessment of the following points to your driving record:
- 3 Points: 1-10 mph above limit
- 4 Points: 11-20 mph above limit
- 6 Points: More than 20 mph above limit