Driving on a Suspended License in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for a range of reasons. Driving on a suspended or revoked license is illegal. In some situations, it may result in civil penalties called forfeitures (loss of your property). For certain revocations, you may be charged with a crime involving fines and the possibility of jail time.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

Your license may be suspended for certain criminal convictions, driving offenses, and other reasons.

Suspension may occur if the state believes you are habitually reckless or negligent when you drive or have repeatedly violated traffic laws. (Wis. Stat. § 343.32(2)(a).) Traffic offenses are given demerit points, and your license may be suspended if you accumulate certain numbers of demerit points. (Wis. Stat. § 343.32(2)(b-c).)

It may also be suspended or revoked for certain alcohol offenses. For example, your license may be suspended or revoked if you:

  • fail a chemical test to determine whether you have a controlled substance or a prohibited alcohol concentration in your blood, or
  • refuse the test. (Wis. Stat. § 353.305(7), § 353.305(9).)

There are many other reasons your license may be suspended or revoked. Examples include:

  • driving while your license is suspended or revoked
  • exceeding the speed limit at greater than 25 mph, and
  • certain sexual assault convictions. (Wis. Stat. § 343.30(1g & a), § 343.30(1n), § 343.30(2d).)

Reinstating your license

The length of your suspension or revocation will vary, depending on the reason for your suspension or revocation or other reasons. After your suspension or revocation period expires, you may have to complete other conditions, pay a reinstatement fee, or pay other fees. Your reinstatement fee may be $50. (Wis. Stat. § 343.21(1)(j).) In certain situations, your reinstatement fee may be $140. (Wis. Stat. § 343.21(1)(jr).)

Criminal Charges for Driving While Suspended or Revoked

Driving while your license is suspended or revoked is illegal. In certain situations, you may be required to forfeit money. (Wis. Stat. § 939.12.) In other situations, you may be charged with a crime. (Wis. Stat. § 939.12.)

Forfeiture

In certain circumstances, if you drive while your license is suspended, you may be required to forfeit between $50 and $200. (Wis. Stat. § 343.44(1)(a), § 343.44(2)(a).)

In certain circumstances, if you drive while your license is revoked, you may be required to forfeit up to $2,500. (Wis. Stat. § 343.44(2)(as).)

Criminal Charges

In certain circumstances, such as if your license was suspended due to operating while under the influence, driving while your license is revoked can be a crime. In that situation, your sentence may involve:

  • a fine of up to $2,500, and
  • up to one year in the county jail. (Wis. Stat. § 343.44(2)(b).)

Property Damage

You may also be required to forfeit money if you cause damage to property while driving on a suspended or revoked license. (Wis. Stat. § 343.44(2)(e-f).) If you seriously injure or kill someone while driving on a suspended or revoked license, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. (Wis. Stat. § 343.44(2)(g-h).) The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor may involve:

  • a fine of up to $10,000, and
  • nine months in jail. (Wis. Stat. § 939.51(3)(a).)

Additional Penalties

In some circumstances, your vehicle may be impounded. (Wis. Stat. § 343.44(4).)

Legal Help for Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

Driving on a suspended or revoked license may have serious consequences. In addition to monetary penalties, or in some cases fines and jail time, your license may be suspended or revoked for a longer period of time. You may have difficulty staying employed or in school, obtaining or retaining and insurance, and with carrying on in other areas of your life. While the law provides specific penalties for this offense, your penalty or sentence may depend on the attitude of judges, prosecutors, and others in the court system toward driving while your privileges are revoked. An attorney who knows how these charges are handled in your city will best be able to provide you with this information.

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