In Wisconsin, the term “operating” is specifically used in place of the term “driving”. Accordingly, in Wisconsin, driving a vehicle is not required to be convicted of OWI. Starting your car's ignition, even if merely intended to turn on the car's heat, is considered to be “operating” under Wisconsin law. Drivers less than 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. Even if your blood alcohol concentration is below 0.08, you can still be convicted of OWI if it can be proven that you are impaired by the effects of alcohol in your system.
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.