Taking Speeding Seriously
Wisconsin’s law enforcement takes speeding seriously. According to the state’s Department of Transportation, there were over 142,000 speeding convictions in Wisconsin just in 2014. This strict attitude is likely a result of Wisconsin’s weather; in the winter, this state gets a lot of snow, as you undoubtedly know if you live there. The snow makes speeding extra dangerous, and Wisconsin cops will not hesitate to pull you over. In bad weather, you can even be pulled over if you are driving within the speed limit. This means that whether you live in Wisconsin or are visiting, you need to be careful about driving safely.
Absolute Speed Limit Law
Wisconsin is one of the states that has an “absolute” speed limit, meaning that exceeding the speed limit by even 1 mph technically counts as speeding. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get pulled over for going 57 mph in a 55 mph zone, but it can make it harder to contest a ticket. If you want to completely overturn the ticket, you’ll need to argue that you were actually driving within the limit.
In addition to obeying the posted speed limit, you’ll need to adjust your speed for the weather conditions. Section 346.57 (2) of Wisconsin’s vehicle code states that “No person may drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing.” This isn’t all talk, either. In 2014, Wisconsin handed out 7,500 convictions for imprudent speed for the conditions. So when it’s snowing, which is common during a Wisconsin winter, adjust your speed to allow for poor visibility and to leave a safe following distance.
How much is a Wisconsin Speeding Ticket?
The cost of a Wisconsin speeding ticket varies depending on the court. In general, a Wisconsin speeding ticket is likely to cost between $200 and $800. The fine should be printed on the ticket itself. In addition to the fine amount, you’ll have to pay a number of extra fees:
- $68 court support services fee
- $25 court cost
- $14 crime lab and drug assessment fee (charged for all violations with a penalty assessment, excluding safety belt
- Penalty assessment: 26% of base deposit
- Jail assessment: 1% of base deposit (minimum of $10)
- $21.50 justice information system fee
If you are also caught driving under the influence, you’ll face an additional $365 “Driver improvement surcharge.” As you can see, a speeding ticket in Wisconsin adds up to being very expensive. Unfortunately, you’ll also probably have to deal with higher insurance rates from your auto insurance company. This can add up to even more over time.
Wisconsin’s “Demerit” Point System
Wisconsin assigns “demerit” points for traffic violations, including speeding. If you accumulate too many points, you risk having your license suspended. Points are assigned as follows:
- Speeding 1-10 mph over the limit: 3 points
- Speeding 11-19 mph over the limit: 6 points
- Speeding by 20 mph or more over the limit: 6 points
- Driving too fast for weather conditions: 4 points
These points, as well as your violation conviction, will go on your driving record.
12 Point Limit
In Wisconsin, the magic number is 12. If you accumulate 12 or more points within 12 months, your driver’s license will be suspended. As you can see above, you can receive 6 points for a single speeding ticket, so it’s not very hard to reach that 12 point limit. The length of the suspension varies depending on how many points you have:
- 12-16 points: 2 month suspension
- 17-22 points: 4 month suspension
- 23-30 points: 6 month suspension
- Over 30 points: 1 year suspension
If you have an instruction permit or probationary driver’s license, you’ll get a longer suspension more quickly:
- 12-30 points: 6 month suspension
- Over 30 points: 1 year suspension
Reducing Points on Your Driving Record
Wisconsin does offer a way to remove points from your driving record. You can reduce your total by 3 points by taking a traffic safety course, which reviews defensive driving strategies. If you’ve accumulated 6 or more points, you may want to take this course to make sure you don’t go over 12. If you do hit 12 points and have your license suspended, you can still take the course. If the reduction brings you back below 12 (essentially, if you start with 12-14 points), your suspension may be ended early. However, you can only take this course once every 3 years.
Contesting a Wisconsin Speeding Ticket
In some cases, contesting a speeding ticket is worthwhile as a way to prevent demerit points and costly long-term increases in your auto insurance. You may choose to attend court and plead guilty, but negotiate for a smaller fine and fewer points on your record. If you believe you were unfairly given a speeding ticket, you can plead not guilty with the goal of having the ticket, with its accompanying points and fine, completely thrown out. Particularly if you plan to plead not guilty, you may wish to hire an experienced traffic attorney who can advise you and represent you in court. This usually gives you your best chance of obtaining a “not guilty” verdict.
If you are considering hiring a traffic attorney, you can find an experienced lawyer within your budget on BernieSez. Our system lets you upload your case information, and attorneys will contact you with quotes. You can then choose the lawyer who meets your requirements and budget.