Has Wisconsin's Bac Limit Always Been .08%?

Wisconsin BAC Limit

In the state of Wisconsin, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of more than .08 percent. This standard applies to drivers of cars, trucks, and many other kinds of motor vehicles. However, the .08 percent standard has not always been in effect. The state's blood alcohol concentration laws have changed along with its drunk driving legislative history.

When Was Drinking and Driving Outlawed?

Drunk driving was first criminalized in the state more than a century ago. However, it was not until 1949 that the state established a prima facie level for proving drunk driving. That early standard was .15 percent but it soon changed with the passage of new laws.

Drunk Driving Laws in Wisconsin

By 1973 the .15 percent standard was lowered to .10 percent and within the same decade, the Wisconsin legislature deemed a .10 percent BAC level or higher as sufficient evidence to prove drunk driving without additional supporting confirmation. In 1989 the state decided to impose heavier sanctions on drivers who drove commercial vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and lowered the BAC level limit for that population of drivers to .04 percent.

Just two years later in 1991, the legal alcohol limit in Wisconsin was lowered to .08 percent. Arriving at the current law took about eight decades and throughout that time other changes were made to the state's laws regarding drinking and driving. In addition to lowering the legal limit for consuming alcohol and operating motor vehicles, sanctions for drunk driving increased and new crimes related to drinking and driving were added to the books.

As shown by this abbreviated overview of Wisconsin's drunk driving laws, the state's BAC limit has changed significantly over time. More change may come in the future, and Wisconsin drivers will have to be prepared to deal with the laws the state creates in its efforts to deal with alleged cases of drinking and driving.