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Proposals aim to toughen drunk driving laws in Wisconsin

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MADISON (WITI) -- Wisconsin is the only state in the country where first-time drunk driving is generally not considered a crime. For the most part, a first time OWI offense is a slap on the wrist, a ticket, a fine. There is one exception -- if there's a young child in the car at the time. Now new proposals at the State Capitol would change that.

State Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Jim Ott have co-authored three new bills aimed at reducing drunk driving in the state.

"I don't think most citizens in this state know that you get three do-overs before your action is a felony," said Sen. Darling.

The first is the "Tell it to the judge bill." Under current law, a first drunk driving offense is a fine. The proposal would force all first-time offenders to go before a judge.

The second proposal is the "super drunk" bill. Under current law, a first offense with a blood alcohol content level of .08 results in a ticket. The proposal would make any offense where the BAC is .15 into an automatic criminal misdemeanor.

The third proposal is the "Off the streets bill." Current law does not allow judges to seize cars. This proposal would give the court authority to seize cars from chronic offenders.

"If you take somebody's car away, they're not going to be driving that car drunk," said Rep. Ott.

Democrat Representative Gary Hebl raised concerns about the costs of enforcement.

"If we've got a solution that we think or know is going to work, I'm first in line to do that, but I don't want to just spend money with the idea that maybe this'll work," said Rep. Hebl.

"We can't just say it costs too much.  What does that say to the victims and the victims families?" asked Sen. Darling.

Rep. Ott and Sen. Darling are also proposing three other OWI-related bills that would stiffen penalties. One in fact, would create a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years for any drunk driver who hits and kills someone while behind the wheel.


  • natalie

    Then make public transportation a safer and better option so people won’t be afraid to take a bus!

  • natalie

    Plus alcohol is legal…. or isn’t it… how many cops and politions drink?! Is this entraptment? Money making scheme…. we all kow politics was funded by alcohol and tobacco. Look up history! U hypocrites! Not everyon can afford a limo. Offer alcohohol to the home.

  • natalie

    Wanting to feel good is not a crime… plus every person has a different tolerance level…. ..08 two drinks give me a break. Jesus drank wine! Do u want to kill all small businesses in wisconsin who believe in eat drink and be merry and all the God fearing people who enjoy a glass or two of wine with their meal? Focus on those who have a major alcohol depedency who cannot function without it ! They are a danger! What about prescription pains pills…. addiction is NOT a crime! It is an illness and coping mechanism…. oh and btw…. prescription drugs are also NOT the answer…… focus on pharmecutical companies and docters not the victims that are forced to take drugs! Or will screw up your tax money too much? Would you rather destroy families by financially burdening them to a point where they cannot function and or survive?

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