What are Wisconsin Public Traffic Records?
Public traffic records in Wisconsin are official documents that contain a persons driving history and other information that pertains to road usage. Such information may include traffic violations, fines, sentences, and driver's license status. A Wisconsin public traffic record comprises information generated by various government agencies, especially law enforcement agencies.
The agencies that are primarily responsible for ensuring the enforcement of state traffic laws and for the generation and maintenance of traffic records include the Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and state courts.
Are Traffic Records Public in Wisconsin?
Yes, traffic records are public in Wisconsin. As in many other states in the US, Wisconsin's Public Records Law guarantees access to public records. Per state's laws, all records are presumed available to the public unless otherwise stated in state or federal statutes. As earlier established, traffic records are maintained and generated by government agencies in the state, making them public records.
However, it is essential to note that specific federal and state laws protect personal information on public records. For instance, the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) protects private information such as social security numbers and residential addresses. Wisconsin also has additional state laws that extend disclosure limits on personal information like photographs, ID card data, certain juvenile convictions, signatures, and medical information.
What do Wisconsin Traffic Records Contain?
Wisconsin traffic records contain information such as the following:
- Driver's license number
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Residential address
Does a Citation Go on Your Record in Wisconsin?
Generally, citations go on driving or traffic records in Wisconsin. However, not all citations appear on these driving records. Wisconsin's point system assigns demerit points for moving traffic violations committed in the state. These traffic violations that occur while a vehicle is in motion or when the offender is in a moving vehicle are typically the only kinds that appear on an offender's record.
There are other types of traffic violations for which an offender may receive traffic citations; however, such violations as parking violations and other non-moving traffic offenses do not go on an offender's record.
Moving violations are considered more severe than non-moving traffic violations as they typically involve more risk of harm or injury to other persons or damage to property. Although some non-moving violations occur while a vehicle is in motion, non-moving traffic violations typically involve less risk of harm or injury to other persons. As such, it rarely goes on an offender's driving record.
Types of Traffic Citations in Wisconsin
Law enforcement agents in Wisconsin issue traffic citations for different types of traffic violations. Each traffic citation contains information about the violation with which the recipient is being charged and the available resolution methods. Receiving a traffic ticket, in many cases, may result in fines, point assessment, and license suspension if the offender is convicted. Types of traffic citations in Wisconsin include:
- Speed-related tickets: law enforcement agents issue these tickets for speed limit violations. In other words, when a road user goes over or under the specified speed limits or otherwise violates state speed laws, such a person receives a traffic citation. Depending on the particular speeding violation, speeding-related tickets in Wisconsin come with different demerit points: three points, four points, and six points.
- Accident-related tickets: if a road user violates state traffic laws and the violation results in an accident, the road user receives a traffic ticket. There are different types of traffic violations that may result in accidents, including failure to yield, inattentive driving, unsafe lane deviation, disobeying road signals, and failure to keep a vehicle under control. Accident-related tickets typically have four (4) demerit points attached.
- License and documentation tickets: road users who operate vehicles without licenses or insurance receive this type of ticket. License and documentation tickets also apply to persons who drive without a license or who fail to move over or slow down when passing a stopped emergency vehicle. These tickets attract zero (0) to three (3) demerit points on the offender's license.
- Major traffic violation tickets: these tickets cover major, six-point traffic violations, including operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), fleeing the police, reckless driving, fleeing an accident scene, failure to stop at rail crossings, violating occupational licenses, etc.
Wisconsin Traffic Citation Lookup
Persons interested in looking up Wisconsin traffic citations must first confirm or verify the town, city, or county where they received the citation. Such persons may then contact the Circuit or Municipal court in the locality to look up the traffic citation.
Some courts have online search portals where interested parties may look up traffic citations. Others list the court clerk's address so that interested parties may contact the court clerks directly for any inquiries or record requests. Overall, the Wisconsin Judiciary has a court directory where interested parties may search municipal and circuit court websites.
Requesting parties may also visit local DMV offices in person for information about how to look up traffic citations. In the case of a missing traffic citation, the recipient must reach out to the appropriate court as soon as possible to resolve the ticket. Failure to resolve the ticket before the stipulated deadline could result in harsher penalties, and in some cases, a bench warrant.
How to Lookup my Wisconsin Traffic Records
The first port of call for persons interested in looking up Wisconsin traffic records is the Divison of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The state's DMV is a division of WisDOT and is responsible for generating and disseminating traffic records. WisDOT and the DMV offer ways to look up traffic records online, by mail, and over the phone. However, the department does not currently offer in-person look-up methods.
Interested parties may perform an online driver's license status check to look up Wisconsin traffic records online. Requesting parties must provide their driver's license numbers, social security numbers, full name, and birth date. After entering the required information in the appropriate fields, requesters can then view their driving records online. Requesters must note that driving records made available through WisDOT's status check website are not downloadable.
Generally, the DMV provides two types of traffic records: driving and vehicle records. Driving records contain a person's driving records for the past five (5) years, including speeding tickets and crashes. Driving records also contain the subject's current driver's license information but do not contain the subject's entire driving history. On the other hand, vehicle records contain details about the subject's vehicle, including emission tests where applicable and title registration. Request methods for both types of records are similar; interested parties may request online through the vehicle search service, driver search service, or the Public Abstract Request System (PARS).
To request traffic records online, interested parties must provide the following information:
- Social security number
- Date of birth
- Vehicle identification number
- Full name
- A valid debit or credit card
- Driver's license or ID card number
Persons who request through the vehicle or driver search services will receive their driving records by email. A fee of $5 and a convenience fee apply to such requests. On the other hand, the PARS is free to use, but requesting parties must first create user accounts.
To request complete traffic records in Wisconsin, interested parties must first fill out a request form and include the appropriate fee, which is $5 for non-certified vehicle records and $10 for certified vehicle records. Requesting parties may send the payment using money orders or checks payable to Registration Fee Trust and mail the filled application to WisDOT.
Requesting parties must remember that private information on driving records is closed to the public, except the subject indicates a desire to make them public. Therefore, third-party requests for driving records may contain only public information. Private or confidential information may be removed or redacted.
Wisconsin traffic case records may also be available from third-party websites since they are considered public records. Unlike government sources or websites, third-party websites do not have geographical limitations. Hence, interested parties may access these websites from anywhere in the world. However, some third-party websites may require registration or subscription to access traffic record
Wisconsin Traffic Violations
Traffic violations in Wisconsin are offenses pertaining to road use. These violations typically result in penalties, ranging from a simple fine to a prison sentence. The most common traffic violation is speeding, resulting in a fine of up to $200. Other traffic violations include:
- Driving without insurance: this can result in a fine of up to $500 and a license suspension.
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license: This can result in a fine of up to $500 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
- Reckless driving: This can result in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to nine months.
- DUI / DWI: This can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.
Wisconsin License Plate Lookup
Wisconsin license plate information constitutes a critical part of Wisconsin traffic records. They help law enforcement officials track down traffic offenders and identify vehicles and their owners.
To look up Wisconsin license plates, interested members of the public may visit the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) website. WisDOT maintains a database of all registered vehicles in the state. Requestors can search for license plate information by entering the plate number or the vehicle's VIN (vehicle identification number).
Alternatively, the requesting party may find license plate information using online third-party services. These services allow users to search for license plate information by name or plate number. The best option is to contact the local law enforcement agency for information about a specific vehicle. However, law enforcement agencies may require requestors to meet specific eligibility requirements to access this information.
How to View Traffic Case Records for Free in Wisconsin
Persons interested in viewing traffic case records for free in Wisconsin may contact the court clerk in the county or town where the case was first heard. Court clerks are record custodians and are mandated by law to make public records available on request.
In-person access to case records is typically free; however, the court may charge fees to produce copies. The court may also make case records available on public access terminals at the courthouse. Interested parties access traffic case records through Wisconsin's Circuit Court Access, which grants requesting parties access to circuit court records. Requestors may search case records using:
- Party name
- Business name
- Case number
How Long do Traffic Offenses Remain on a Public Record in Wisconsin
Generally, traffic offenses remain on public records for five (5) years. The DMV no longer holds demerit points against an offender one (1) year after the event, but the violation remains on the offender's record. After the designated wait period, record subjects may petition the court to seal or expunge eligible records. However, some severe traffic offenses, such as OWI, stay on an offender's record indefinitely.
How to Remove Traffic Records from Public Websites in Wisconsin
Interested parties may remove traffic records from public websites in Wisconsin by petitioning the court to expunge or seal such records. An expungement seals case records, making them inaccessible to unauthorized parties. Only persons with court orders can access expunged files in Wisconsin.
However, expungement is only available under limited circumstances in the state. Persons arrested but not charged with criminal offenses may be eligible for expungement. Additionally, persons convicted of eligible crimes punishable by imprisonment for no more than six (6) years are eligible for expungement. Finally, persons convicted of criminal offenses under the age of 25 are eligible for expungement. Interested parties may contact attorneys in the state to understand the expungement process better.
Some public websites offer ways for record subjects to opt-out of having their information posted on the websites. In some cases, the opt-out service comes at a fee, but it is more widely free of charge. Interested parties may contact the appropriate public websites to find out about their opt-out processes.
Do Motoring Offenses Affect Criminal Records in Wisconsin?
Yes, motoring offenses affect criminal records in Wisconsin. However, not all motoring offenses affect criminal records in the state. Motoring offenses can be civil or criminal. Civil motoring offenses are less severe and are typically penalized with fines, community service, probation, and other penalties except for imprisonment.
On the other hand, criminal motoring offenses are considered very serious and are penalized with imprisonment, higher fines, and other types of penalties. Criminal motoring offenses are treated as criminal offenses and affect the offender's criminal record.