Skip to the Content
Entrance to Sheriff's Office Building


These articles will provide a reminder and insight into many laws in Wisconins and ordinances. We hope these provide you with information on how to stay safe and learn more about our laws. For a list of all archived articles visit our Archived Articles List.


brown bulletpointArchived Law Articles




Child passenger restraint requirements vary based on age, weight and height. Often, this happens in three stages: infants use rear-facing infant seats; toddlers use forward facing child safety seats; and older children use booster seats.

Many laws require all children to ride in the rear seat whenever possible, and most states permit children over a particular age, height or weight to use an adult safety belt. First offense fines for not complying with a state's child passenger safety laws vary from $10 to $500. Some states also use driver's license points as an additional penalty for noncompliance.

  • All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands require child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria.
  • 47 states and the District of Columbia require booster seats or other appropriate devices for children who have outgrown their child safety seats but are still too small to use an adult seat belt safely. The only states lacking booster seat laws are Arizona, Florida and South Dakota.
  • 6 states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York, Texas) have seat belt requirements for school buses.

The State of Wisconsin also has further laws on which way the infant seat must face depending on age of child and weight and height.
There is a $75 fine per incident per child in the vehicle that does not meet these requirements.

Contact the Washington County WI Health Department for information and free inspection.


Back To Top



Laws provide many tools to combat drunk driving. All states define drunk driving as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Most have increased penalties for higher BACs. Specific penalties and deterrents vary from state to state.

Administrative license suspensions allow law enforcement officers to confiscate a driver's license when the driver fails a chemical test. Some states only allow this if a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test to determine BAC. Several states grant limited driving privileges – such as driving to and from work – to drivers whose license has been suspended if the driver is able to demonstrate special hardship.

Recently, more states have been adopting ignition interlock laws, which require all or a portion of convicted drunk drivers to install interlocks in their cars. These devices analyze a driver's breath and disable the engine if alcohol is detected. Other penalties include vehicle or license plate sanctions.

Alcohol exclusion laws let insurance companies deny payment for treatment of drunk drivers' injuries. However, they have had the unintended consequence of limited doctors' abilities to diagnose alcohol problems and recommend treatment. Some states have repealed such laws.
Highlights of current state drunk driving laws include the following:

  • 42 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands all have some type of administrative license suspension on the first offense.   Wisconsin’s is 6 months.
  • 47 states, the District of Columbia and Guam have increased penalties for drunk drivers found guilty of driving with a high BAC (often .15 or higher). Wisconsin has this in three categories:  .17, .20 and .25.
  • 14 states (and 4 California counties) have made ignition interlocks mandatory or highly incentivized for all convicted drunk drivers, even first-time offenders.  Wisconsin is one of these states.  In Wisconsin it is mandatory for high BAC (>.15) and repeat convictions.

Wisconsin law further imposes vehicle and license plate sanctions which include: Impoundment, vehicle seizure/forfeiture.  Wisconsin also has Open Container Laws and Repeat Offender Laws which meet Federal Requirements.  Also Wisconsin has Alcohol Exclusion Laws limiting treatment.



Back To Top



Huber Law 303.08 

Any person sentenced to a County Jail for a crime, non-payment of a fine or forfeiture, or contempt of court, may be granted the permission to leave the Jail during necessary and reasonable hours for any of the following purposes:

  • Seeking employment (through verified interviews or appointments.
  • Working at employment.
  • Conducting any self-employed occupation including house-keeping and attending the needs of the person’s family.
    • Attendance at an assessment ordered by a court under 343.30(1q)c.
    • Attendance at a treatment program required by a driver safety plan under 343.30(1)c.
    • Attending court proceedings to which the person is a party or for which th person has been subpoenaed as a witness.
    • Attendance at an educational institution or medical treatment

By order of the Court, the wages or salaries of the employed prisoners shall be disbursed by the Sheriff for the following purposes, in the order stated:

  • Necessary travel expenses to and from work.
  • Court-ordered support of the prisoner’s dependents, if any.
  • Other incidental expenses of the prisoner.
  • Payments, either in full or ratably, of the prisoner’s obligations acknowledged by him in writing or which have been reduced to judgment.
  • The Board of the prisoner.
  • The balance, if any, to the prisoner upon his discharge.

Employment Restrictions:

  • Inmates may only work one job at a time during their incarceration.
  • The Washington County Jail reserves the right to request prepayment of an inmate’s entire Huber board in cases where an employer has shown a previous history of non-compliance with Jail rules and requirements.
  • When, after reasonable requests for information from an employer has not been provided, the Washington County Jail may restrict the release of an inmate until such time as necessary information is received.
  • While incarcerated in the Washington County Jail under the Huber Law, you may only work in Washington County or adjacent counties.
  • Huber board is due every Friday. Failure to make payment will result in loss of release until monies have been paid.
  • You may not work for other inmates.


The Sheriff may refuse to permit the prisoner to exercise the prisoner’s privilege to leave the Jail not to exceed 5 days for each breach of discipline or violation of Jail regulations.


Back To Top



It is illegal in Wisconsin for a driver over the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle:

  • With a Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or greater;
  • While under the influence of an intoxicant;
  • With a detectable amount of a restricted controlled substance in his or her blood; or
  • While under the influence of a controlled substance or any other drug.

For drivers with three or more prior Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) convictions, the limit is lower: they cannot operate a motor vehicle if their BAC is greater than 0.02.

Drivers under 21 years of age are required by law to maintain "absolute sobriety," and, for them, driving with any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal.

A driver is "under the influence" when his or her ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired. A person's ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired if he or she is less able to safely control the vehicle because of the consumption of alcohol or controlled substances.

This means that if a police officer pulls you over and determines that you are impaired by alcohol and/or any other drug, you could be arrested and prosecuted, regardless of your BAC.

Penalties for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated range from a forfeiture and license revocation for a first offense, to up to 6 years imprisonment, 3 year license revocation and possible seizure of vehicles for subsequent offenses. Additionally, more severe penalties apply if injury or death results.

But no matter what your legal status, it is always wise to avoid driving if you have been drinking.

A recent review of alcohol impairment studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that impairment of some driving-related skills begins with even the smallest amount of alcohol in your system.

First Wisconsin OWI Offense

  • Fine – From $150 to $300
  • License Suspension – From 6 to 9 Months
  • Occupational License Possible
  • SR22 Insurance Required
  • Alcohol Assessment

A first DUI in Wisconsin, also known as an OWI offense in the state, carries the potential of both criminal and administrative penalties, which suspend or restrict the driver’s license of a defendant. The following article outlines penalties applicable to first offense convictions for private adult drivers. The state of Wisconsin employs differing sentencing requirements for other first offense DUI charges, such as violations of zero tolerance laws by minors, DUI by commercial drivers, and for all drivers, enhanced administrative penalties in light of violating implied consent laws.

Administrative Penalties

  • Drivers, pending upon arrest under suspicion of first offense DUI, will face administrative license suspension of six (6) months, unless otherwise contested successfully at an administrative hearing.  
  • License suspension can be reduced or modified, in the form of an occupational or hardship based license.
  • Upon eligibility to reinstate, a driver must provide proof of SR-22 insurance coverage

Criminal Penalties

  • First offense DUI/OWI convictions in Wisconsin carry no mandatory period of incarceration
  • Fines applicable to first offense convictions range from $150 to $300, but these fines do not include costs incurred during completion of other sentencing items, such as probation requirements, alcohol testing, or defensive driving courses
  • Alcohol assessment is required in all DUI/OWI cases in Wisconsin



Back To Top




Recognizing work zones

Major road construction that lasts for weeks and weeks. Emergency vehicles at the side of the road. A snowplow flashing its warning lights. The everyday garbage pickup. In Wisconsin, they’re all work zones.
Any time people are working in a street or highway near traffic, drivers and workers are at risk. Being able to identify the work zones up ahead can save lives. So learn the signs of a work zone: flashing lights, utility or emergency vehicles, orange signs, flags, barrels and cones. And, of course, people.

Driving in work zones

To protect themselves and others, drivers need to slow down whenever they see flashing lights, or move over, if possible, to leave the lane beside the work zone open. In some construction areas, lowered speed limits are posted and must be obeyed at all times.
Remember, when you enter a work zone, be patient. Worrying about the time and traffic won’t get you anywhere faster. Instead, slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. These tips can help you get in and out of a work zone safely:

  • Don’t fool around. Eliminate distractions like eating, drinking, talking on the phone, or fiddling with electronic devices.
  • Expect the unexpected. Speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be changed, and people and vehicles may be working on or near the road.
  • Slow down. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second, and the faster you go the longer it takes to stop.
  • Give yourself room. Rear-end collisions are the most common work zone crashes, so don’t tailgate.
  • Allow about three seconds of braking distance.
    Look for signs. Orange, diamond-shaped signs usually give you ample warning of lane closings, construction areas, and flaggers and other workers ahead.
  • Be patient. If you don’t see workers, that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Observe the signs until you see one that says you’ve left the work zone.
  • Plan ahead. Leave early or map out an alternate route. Find the latest road conditions and work zone news at
  • Follow the law. Slow down and move over, if possible, when you see flashing lights.

Paying for work zone carelessness

In Wisconsin, we take work zone safety seriously. The penalties for careless driving are steep.

  • It can cost you money
    A normal speeding ticket can be expensive, but that’s nothing compared to traffic violations made in the zone. In a work zone, penalties are doubled - and fines usually increase every year.
  • It can cost you time
    The consequences for injuring or killing someone in a work zone are especially serious. Careless drivers may face thousands of dollars in fines and up to 3 1/2 years in prison if they injure someone in a work zone. The fines for vehicular manslaughter are even higher, as are the prison terms - as many as 10 years. These punishments may increase if the driver was intoxicated or a repeat offender.
  • It can cost your life
    The greatest cost of irresponsible driving isn’t calculated in dollars or years. Wisconsin sees nearly 2,000 work zone crashes a year. Sometimes, people die. And those tragedies change the lives of everyone left behind - workers, drivers and passengers, family and friends.

The fact is, people who work along Wisconsin’s roads are extremely vulnerable. But not every crash in the zone involves workers. In reality, drivers and their passengers are the most common work zone fatalities.
Driving safely protects people on the road and the people in your own car. Driving safely protects you. So follow the rules, follow the law. And be safer in the zone.



Back To Top


Archived List >>


Current Articles >>


Information and recommendations are compiled from sources believed to be reliable. The Sheriff’s Office  makes no guarantee as to and assumes no responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency or completeness of such information or recommendations. Other or additional safety measures may be required under particular circumstances. Last Revised: 8/2014