Wisconsin distracted driving laws prohibit motorists from texting while operating a vehicle. Drivers are responsible for their own safety and for the safety of those around them. Fellow drivers, pedestrians and passengers are all put at risk when a driver becomes distracted.

However, these distractions do not simply refer to texting or using a cellphone behind the wheel. Other actions like eating and searching for items underneath a seat may also distract a driver from the road and cause fatal accidents.

The state of Wisconsin considers texting and driving the primary reason a motorist will become distracted. Drivers convicted of violating these laws are subject to fines, traffic tickets and driver’s license points. The Wisconsin department of transportation offers simple tips, such as asking a passenger to compose a text for you, to help reduce distractions in and outside the vehicle.

What is distracted driving in Wisconsin?

The state of Wisconsin considers any activity that causes the driver to divert his or her attention from the road to another task, a distraction. The state lists three types of driving distractions that may occur when operating a vehicle.

  1. A manual distraction is when the driver’s hands are taken off of the wheel and his or her attention is forced away from the road.
  2. A visual distraction is when a driver takes his or her eyes off the road and focuses on something inside or outside the vehicle.
  3. A cognitive distraction involves the driver’s mind being taken off the road and not focusing on the operation of the vehicle.

Each type of distraction effects the driver in a different way. Texting and driving accidents may be caused by one or all three types of distractions. If a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for less than five seconds at 55 miles per hour, the vehicle will travel 100 yards.

Distracted driving facts in Wisconsin show that one in five automobile crashes involve a distracted driver. It is estimated that there are distracted driving accidents across Wisconsin every 22 minutes. In particular, research suggests that drivers who are using a cellphone while driving only see 50 percent of the information around them.

Distracted Driving Laws in Wisconsin for Handheld Devices

It is not illegal to use a handheld mobile device in the state of Wisconsin. However, drivers are not allowed to use a handheld device when travelling through a road work zone.

This restriction is lifted if the driver needs to use the device to place an emergency call. There are strict laws against texting while driving in the state. Any driver seen to be operating a vehicle while distracted is subject to ticketing.

Wisconsin facts about distracted driving state that using a cellphone while operating a car can increase your chances of being involved in a crash by four times. The use of a hands-free device is recommended, but pulling over to use a cellphone is the preferred solution.

Texting and Driving Laws in Wisconsin

Texting and driving laws prohibit anyone from sending or receiving text messages while operating a vehicle. This activity is deemed especially dangerous, as it involves all three types of distractions mentioned above. Sending or receiving a text message takes your hands off the wheel, focuses your eyes away from the road and takes your mind off of driving.

Anyone in violation of the distracted driving law will be subject to fines, points and penalties. The law does not strictly refer to messages sent via a phone number, it also includes electronic mail messages. The ban is a primary law, which means offenders can be stopped by law enforcement officers if they are seen to be texting even if they have not committed any other offense.

There are exceptions to Wisconsin’s texting and driving laws. Drivers who own a hands-free device that allows them to send or receive messages without removing their hands from the steering wheel may do so without violating the law. Similarly, drivers may operate any device that’s sole purpose is to send or receive emergency messages or tied directly to the functionality of the vehicle.

Wisconsin Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Cell phone use while driving on a probationary license is strictly forbidden. This law refers to both hands-free and handheld devices. Drivers who have learner’s permits are allowed to use a cellphone if they are in an emergency situation and need to contact emergency services. Studies show that during the months of June, July and August, teenagers cause 13 distracted driving accidents per day across the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders

Distracted driving laws in Wisconsin state that motorist who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are forbidden from using a phone while driving. This provision includes handheld and hands-free devices. Drivers are allowed to use an electronic device to report an emergency, but this is the only exception.

Authorized drivers of emergency vehicles are exempt from the state’s texting and driving laws. Similarly, drivers who have been issued with an amateur radio license by the federal communications commission may operate a two-way radio communication device while driving.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Wisconsin

Motorists who are convicted of driving while distracted are subject to fines and penalties. An inattentive driving conviction can result in one or more of the following penalties:

  • Distracted driving ticket.
  • Distracted driving fines.
  • Demerit points on a license.
  • Extended driving restrictions for graduated driver license (GDL) holders.
  • Extended wait-times for a probationary license if convicted on an instruction permit.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin issues advice and tips on how to stop distracted driving. Follow the below advice to stay focused and free of distractions on the roads:

  • Turn off all mobile phones before you begin your journey.
  • Use specially engineered smartphone applications that stop incoming or outgoing calls, texts and notification for set periods of time. You can activate the application before you start driving and deactivate it when you have parked. Some applications also send notifications to people trying to reach you while you are driving, notifying them that you are not available.
  • Ask your passengers to send a text or make a call on your behalf.
  • Tell the driver to keep his or her eyes on the road if she or he is texting and driving.
  • Pull over and stop the vehicle if something requires your attention.
  • Complete all non-driving related tasks before you begin your journey or after you have reached your destination. This includes but is not limited to the following tasks.
    • Personal grooming
    • Navigation
    • Eating



Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.