Wisconsin's Reckless Driving Laws and Penalties

Read about Wisconsin’s reckless driving laws and the consequences of a conviction.

In Wisconsin, unsafe driving can lead to reckless driving charges, fines, jail time, and license suspension. This article explains how Wisconsin defines reckless driving and the penalties you'll face for a conviction.

What's Considered "Reckless Driving" in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin's "reckless driving" law states that "no person may endanger the safety of any person or property by the negligent operation of a vehicle." As used in the statute, the term "negligent" basically means the person should have known the driving posed a substantial risk of harm to a person or property. (Wis. Stat. Ann. § 346.62.)

Wisconsin's Reckless Driving Penalties

The consequences of a Wisconsin reckless driving conviction depend on the circumstances. However, the possible penalties are provided below.

Fines for 1st Reckless Driving Conviction in Wisconsin

A first reckless driving conviction carries $25 to $200 in fines.

Fines and Jail for 2nd or Subsequent Reckless Driving Conviction in Wisconsin

For a second or subsequent reckless driving conviction within a four-year period, the driver faces up to a year in jail and/or $50 to $500 in fines.

Fines and Jail for Reckless Driving With Minor Injuries in Wisconsin

Reckless driving offenders who cause minor injury to another person are looking at $300 to $2,000 in fines and the possibility of 30 days to a year in jail.

Fines, Jail, and License Suspension for Reckless Driving With Serious Injuries in Wisconsin

A reckless driving offender who causes "great bodily harm" to another person can be convicted of a class I felony. A conviction carries up to three-and-a-half years in prison and/or a maximum of $10,000 in fines. The motorist's driver's license will also be suspended for up to a year.

Traffic Violation Points for Reckless Driving Offenses in Wisconsin

A reckless driving conviction adds six demerit points to the motorist's driving record. Accumulating 12 or more points within a 12-month period leads to license suspension.

Reckless Driving and OWI Charges ("Wet Reckless") in Wisconsin

In some states, it's possible for a driver who's charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI), also called "driving under the influence" (DUI), to "plea bargain" for a lesser charge. When an OWI is plea-bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it's sometimes called a "wet reckless."

Wisconsin law doesn't prohibit plea bargaining in OWI cases. So, for someone who's accused of drunk driving in Wisconsin, convincing a prosecutor to reduce the charge to reckless driving.

Talk to a Wisconsin Defense Attorney

The facts of every case are different. If you've been arrested for or charged with reckless driving, get in contact with an experienced defense attorney. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on how best to handle your situation.

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