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Closing the loophole: Soon-to-be-introduced bill would tie ignition interlock devices to driver’s licenses

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MADISON -- A pair of Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to target drunken drivers -- hoping to keep those who are caught from becoming repeat offenders.

A soon-to-be-introduced bill would require some of those caught driving under the influence to get a new type of driver's license.

According to recent Wisconsin Department of Transportation data, if you took all of the Wisconsin drivers who have at least one OWI conviction and piled them into Miller Park, you'd fill the place to capacity nearly ten times. And those are just the people who have been caught.

"Probably for every person that is located, sighted, stopped and brought in, there's probably 100 times that person that's already driven intoxicated that we haven't caught," Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) said.

Some of those convicted of OWI are required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle. The device won't allow for a vehicle to be started up if there is alcohol in the driver's system.

Having a buddy start the vehicle for you won't work either. The device will re-test you shortly after you hit the road.

If you fail?

"The horn would start honking and alerting police that 'hey, something's going on. Pull this guy over,'" Gerry DiBartolomeo, ‎State Director at LifeSafer Interlock said.

Currently, if you're ordered to install an ignition interlock device you have to designate the vehicle you'll be driving and have it fitted with the device.

"That was where the loophole came in," Senator Wanggaard said.

Let's say you got caught driving a vehicle without the ignition interlock device -- not your designated vehicle.

ignition interlock

"It wasn't necessarily a criminal offense. It was more like they were operating after revocation which was a lesser violation," Senator Wanggaard said.

A bill, sponsored by Wanggaard and Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Wausau) would tie the ignition interlock requirement to the driver's license.

"Make it a restricted license. Whatever car they're driving has to have the interlock attached to it without having to designate a specific vehicle," Wanggaard said.

Getting caught driving a vehicle without an ignition interlock device would be a criminal offense under the proposed legislation.

The bill will be introduced in Madison soon.


  • Kyle

    There is no “loophole” this is all manipiulation of the of interperitation of the offical law with word magic for right wing anti american agenda. Lets talk about the the “right to travel”which has been declared officially by higher courts tha a person in an automobile with out a drivers license can legally travel where they want. Next lets talk about rigging of the blood alchol machines where if you burb before the test it changes the results. Then on to how much profitsthe iid installers make. Oh yeah mandatory gps will come with it.The solution is not take away are rights but to shut the bars down and get acholo out of grocery stores, tax it, and crimalize possesion of acholo for any one that gets an owi. I

  • Anonymous

    Not to also mention that the IID is a complete distraction while driving by going off 4 to 8 minutes after starting and then every 5 to 10 minutes there after. I understand making the roads safer but has anyone every thought of the distraction this device causes. Also the reliability of the devices are very poor, every other month when I get a new unit it works different or doesn’t register properly. Those that are getting several DWI or OWI tickets are bypassing the law already because most don’t have a valid license to start with.

  • tony

    Well lets go back to the way it was before 1970 just take the plates from the vehicles a drunk driver has and if caught driving some one elses car you automatically go to jail. Or better yet do not drive drunk.

  • Mom

    This legislation is a needed change to Wisconsin’s current system and acknowledges that all you need to drive in Wisconsin is a car. Too many repeat drunk drivers are driving without a license or insurance and the current system perpetuates this problem by making people wait long periods before they can drive legally. The bottom line is we need to do whatever it takes to make our roads safer. An ignition interlock restricted license acknowledges the need to drive while protecting public safety. Kudos to Rep. Heaton and Senator Wanggaard!

  • Daniel Peterson

    I think its real nice of our government to give drunks a legal right to travel. Im wondering how many of them have lost a loved one to a drunk driver and how they would feel then. Driving isnt a right, its a priveledge. As such a drunk driver is a risk to everyone one the road. Priveledges should be taken away, and as drunks can kill when they drive they should only have their priveledges reinstated when they have proven they can be responsible citizens. How to determine that would be the next question. As the “victim” of a drunk driver. I have little to no compassion for their rights. When they come up with a way to bring my son back; well maybe then we can talk.

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