Feel secure knowing the rules of the road when driving in Wisconsin with our guide. You can learn about the major traffic laws in this Midwestern state known for cheese, beer, and cold winters. We also have tips on what to do on a car rental vacation in Wisconsin including sightseeing ideas.
General Rules and Regulations
- Leave enough room to clear intersections; blocking the traffic at intersections is illegal in Wisconsin.
- You must stop and leave 20 feet for school buses that are loading and unloading or have their lights flashing unless you are on the other side of a divided highway.
- Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks or at intersections, bicyclists in bike lanes, vehicles that arrive before you at a four-way stop, and vehicles to your right if you arrive at a four-way stop at the same time as another car.
- All drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt.
- Children under 1 year of age must be seated in rear-facing safety seats while children under 4 must be seated in an appropriately sized safety seat. Children between 4 and 8 or under 40 pounds in weight must use a booster seat.
- Drivers under 21 must not have any alcohol in their system while drivers over 21 have a blood alcohol content allowance of 0.08%.
- There are high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV) in Wisconsin marked with a white diamond sign. They will also have a number such as HOV4 that indicates the number of occupants that must be in the vehicle in order to use the lane.
Speed Limits in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, there are some specific laws you must observe alongside the general speed limit. When passing a school or playing field where children are present, arriving or leaving, you must slow down to 15 miles per hour. The 15 mph limit also applies when next to public vehicles that are loading and unloading, safety zones, and recreational parks.
Wisconsin also has a “reasonable and prudent” law that means you must adjust your speed to a reasonable or prudent level depending on the driving conditions. These conditions can include winding roads, steep gradients, and intersections as well as passing construction workers and pedestrians. In conditions such as traffic congestion, fog, ice, and snow you must also adjust your speed to a level that will avoid a possible accident.
|Within city limits||35 mph (56 km/h)|
|Highways outside city limits||55 mph (89 km/h)|
|Interstates, freeways, and expressways||65 mph (105 km/h)|
Overtaking, Turning and Parking
- You are allowed to pass vehicles when the road’s lanes are dashed lines. It is forbidden to pass vehicles when signposted or on solid lines.
- You can turn right on a red light when it is not signposted as forbidden and you have ensured it is safe to do so.
- U-turns are allowed in Wisconsin except when signposted as prohibited. It is not allowed to make a U-turn at an intersection when an officer is patrolling.
- Do not park within 10 feet of a fire hydrant and 15 feet of a fire station, crosswalk, or intersection.
- You must leave less than 12 inches between your vehicle and the curb when parking.
- Do not park in front of a school between 7:30 am and 4:30 pm.
- Parking on a bridge, overpass, or underpass is forbidden.
- Do not double park and always park in the direction of the traffic flow.
Car Rental with SIXT in Wisconsin
Wisconsin provides a huge range of landscapes for outdoor adventurers. Hike the pink cliffs around Devils Lake, take the trails through Wyalusing State Park for views over the Mississippi River and explore the lowlands surrounding Lake Michigan. The abundance of lakes and rivers means activities like kayaking and fishing can be found all over the state. The Apostle Islands of Lake Superior to the north are a stunning location for watersports.
Or if you are looking to experience the state’s urban life you can visit the capital of Madison, famous for the friendliness of its residents, delicious and organic local cuisine and its excellent biking infrastructure. The state’s largest city is Milwaukee; an often-overlooked city destination, it is the brewery capital of Wisconsin and has a hip nightlife, stunning parks, and high-quality museums. We highly recommend checking out the Harley-Davidson Museum that celebrates the iconic brand and the Milwaukee Art Museum for its spectacular architecture and excellent collections.