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How Serious is an Underage OWI?

Underage driver drinking alcohol

No one should ever get behind the wheel after having too much drink. While adults legally can drive with .08% blood alcohol concentration in their system, teenagers can not have any alcohol and drive in Wisconsin.

Not A Drop State

Wisconsin is labeled as a “not a drop state.” This means that anyone under the age of 21 is not allowed to have any concentration of alcohol in their system if they choose to drive. Young people who choose to drink and then drive can face serious consequences that could last into adulthood.

Testing for OWI

Similar to adults suspected of an OWI, law enforcement officers have a few methods they use to determine whether someone has been drinking.


When using a breathalyzer, law enforcement can get a reading of how much alcohol could be in a driver’s system based upon a reading of their breath. Breathalyzers are reliable but have been proven not always to give accurate results.

Field Sobriety Tests

Whether it’s walking a straight line or a horizontal gaze test, law enforcement officers could charge a driver with suspicion of OWI if they fail a field sobriety test.

Blood Test

If an underage driver refuses a breathalyzer exam, law enforcement officers could request a blood test. This is more reliable than a breathalyzer exam; however, it can be argued that one’s alcohol levels could change from the time of being behind the wheel until the blood test is taken.

Penalties for Underage OWI

Just as an adult facing an OWI charge, penalties for underage OWI are extremely serious.


An underage OWI charge will usually result in a $200 fine. Fines can be as much as $400, though, if the driver has someone under the age of 16 in their vehicle at the time of the stop.


Underage drivers can receive up to six demerit points on their driving record if they are found guilty of an OWI. Demerit points usually drop off a person’s driving record; however, if too many demerit points are accumulated, a driver could not be allowed back on the road until driving courses or other suspensions are completed.


If an underage driver has a BAC under .08% they will not be allowed to drive for three months. The driver faces a six-month suspension if they had a passenger under the age of 16 in the car at the time of the stop.

Additionally, if a driver refuses to take an OWI test they can immediately receive a 12-month suspension and be forced to have an ignition interlock device (IID) for 12 months.

Jail Time

It is possible for an underage driver found to be under the influence to face jail time depending on the seriousness of the incident.

The heftiest penalties can come if an underage driver has a BAC at .08% or above. If this happens, the underage driver will usually face the same OWI consequences an adult driver would face.

Drivers facing an underage OWI need the best legal representation available — that’s where the team at The Law Offices of Jason D. Baltz comes in. Our Milwaukee attorneys are here for you, even in the most complex cases. Contact our office today for a free consultation.