Drunk driving arrests and convictions

During 2019, 27,785 people were arrested for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Wisconsin, including 298 persons who were under 18.

Of the 5,957 drinking drivers involved in crashes in 2019, 318 (5%) were under age 21 and 5,639 (95%) were age 21 or older.

Of 20,956 drivers convicted of OWI in Wisconsin in 2019, 1,374 (7%) were under age 21 at the time of violation and 19,582 (93%) were age 21 or older.

Of the 22,683 OWI citations adjudicated in Wisconsin during 2019, 92% of the drivers were found guilty. This total included 4,367 cases where the driver refused the alcohol test. 92% of the people who refused the alcohol test were found guilty of OWI.

The median alcohol concentration (AC) test result for 2019 OWI citations was 0.16%.

Since 2006, the number of drinking drivers in crashes has declined 29% (from 8,379). In 2006, 1,220 (15%) of the 8,379 drinking drivers in crashes were under age 21. (The minimum drinking age in Wisconsin was raised from 18 to 19 in July, 1984, and from 19 to 21 in September, 1986.)

A snapshot of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles Driver Record File as of December 31, 2019, showed that:

  • 494,939 drivers had one OWI conviction
  • 147,404 drivers had two OWI convictions
  • 58,601 drivers had three OWI convictions
  • 24,474 drivers had four OWI convictions
  • 10,874 drivers had five OWI convictions
  • 4,784 drivers had six OWI convictions
  • 2,034 drivers had seven OWI convictions
  • 811 drivers had eight OWI convictions
  • 327 drivers had nine OWI convictions
  • 146 drivers had 10 OWI convictions
  • 67 drivers had 11 OWI convictions
  • 19 drivers had 12 OWI convictions
  • 12 drivers had 13 OWI convictions
  • 5 drivers had 14 OWI convictions
  • 5 drivers had 15 OWI convictions
  • 1 ​driver had 16 OWI convictions
  • 1 driver had 17 OWI convictions