The majority of municipal court cases involve traffic, parking, and ordinance matters, including first-time drunken driving offenses. Juvenile matters, such as truancy, underage drinking, drug offenses and curfew violations are also a significant part of municipal court caseloads. The laws governing municipal courts include Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 800, Municipal Court Procedure and Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 755, Municipal Court (external links).
- First offense drunk driving
- Underage alcohol
- Building code violations
- Disorderly conduct
- Health code violations
- Animal control violations
As of February 2021, there were 229 municipal courts and 232 municipal judges in Wisconsin. Seventy-nine of these courts are joint courts that serve from two to eighteen municipalities. Milwaukee has the largest municipal court, with three full-time judges. In totality, Wisconsin's municipal courts handled more than 450,000 cases in 2019, the most recent year that statistics are available.
Creating municipal courts
Municipalities may join together to form one court. The contracting municipalities need not be contiguous or even in the same county. Any number of municipalities may join and voters in all the municipalities elect the judge.
A packet entitled Starting a Municipal Court is available to assist municipalities interested in creating municipal courts. It contains statistics about municipal courts, sample ordinances, answers to commonly asked questions, ethics advice and general information. The guide is continuously updated and distributed to municipalities upon request.