Wisconsin Motorist Info

The following information is updated periodically. However, laws and regulations can change between updates. State statutes and local ordinances are the ultimate authorities for these issues.

Points of Interest

  • Wisconsin has one of the largest deer herds in the United States (world!). There are estimates that one half of all auto accidents are collisions with animals, mostly deer.
  • It is illegal to use the shoulder to pass a vehicle that is stopped and waiting to make a left hand turn.
  • Wisconsin State Troopers and a sampling of local and county police officers accept Master Card and Visa charge cards for “on-the-spot” payment of traffic fines.

Speed Limits

Rural Interstates: Cars 70, Trucks 70
Urban Interstates: Cars 70, Trucks 70
Other Limited Access Roads: Cars 70, Trucks 70

These speed limits apply unless a different limit is posted.

Speed limits are absolute–exceeding the speed limit is illegal per se (regardless of whether it was safe under the specific conditions).

Speed Limits Enforcement Techniques
Enforced through use of:
Pacing: Yes
Radar: Yes
Vascar: Yes
Automated Speed Enforcement: No
Aircraft: Yes
Laser: Yes

Ticket Payment Methods
Consult your ticket or clerk of courts

Trial By Declaration Allowed
Yes, at least in some jurisdictions, under the name “plea in writing.” Consult your court.

Limited and must be requested within 10 days.
Statute 345.421

Jury Trial Allowed
Speeding: Yes
Parking: Yes
Equipment: Yes
DWI: Yes

Member of Nonresident Compact

Member of Driver License Compact
No (However, Wisconsin still reports all nonresident citations to home state.)

When and Where to File Accident Reports
The operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury to or death of any person, any damage to state or other government-owned property, except a state or other government-owned vehicle, to an apparent extent of $200 or more or total damage to property owned by any one person or to a state or other government-owned vehicle to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of such accident to the police department, the sheriff’s department or the traffic department of the county or municipality in which the accident occurred or to a state traffic patrol officer.

(Wisconsin Statutes 346.70(1), http://nxt.legis.state.wi.us/nxt/gateway.dll?f=templates&fn=default.htm&d=stats&jd=top)

Resident Insurance Requirements
Liability insurance is required (although some states allow posting a cash bond or such as an alternative)
Minimum Coverage Required:
Injury to one person: $25,000
All injuries: $50,000
Property Damage: $10,000
Uninsured motorist coverage is required

Phone/Texting Restrictions
Hand-Held Ban: No
All Cell Phone Ban: Learner or Intermediate License holder
Texting Ban: All drivers
Enforcement: Primary: for all offenses

Other Regulations

  • Open intoxicants are prohibited in the vehicle.
  • The BAC level is .08 percent.
  • Wisconsin has an administrative license suspension law and an implied consent law. The breathalyzer refusal penalty is a 1-year driver’s license revocation.
  • Beginning November 1, 2011, it became legal to transport a loaded handgun cased or uncased, in a vehicle without a license. Rifles and shotguns must be unloaded, but now may be uncased. There is still some confusion as to whether or not an encased gun is concealed, so if it is cased, best practice is to keep the long gun out of reach. Long guns must be “discernable to ordinary observation”, since a conceal carry license does not apply. Previously all firearms had to be unloaded & encased (per the transport statute), & out of reach (derived from the concealed carry statute). Those with a concealed carry license may conceal a pistol in a vehicle.
  • Studded tires are prohibited.
  • Tire chains are not required.
  • Wisconsin has a seat belt law with primary enforcement.
  • Wisconsin has a mandatory child restraint law for passengers under 9 years of age. Children under age 4 must use approved car safety seats.
  • Wisconsin has a mandatory motorcycle helmet law for persons under 18 years of age and for drivers with a learner’s permit.
  • Wisconsin has a mandatory insurance law.

General Information
Telephone: 608/266-3212 (State Patrol Administrative Offices) or http://www.wicourts.gov/courts/municipal/ (Wisconsin Court System, Municipal Courts)
Emergency Cellular Phone Number: 911