Lawmakers Plan To Reintroduce Tougher Drunk Driving Penalties

Wisconsin lawmakers may once again be looking to toughen the state’s drunk driving laws as the 2013 legislative session gets underway.

River Hills Senator Alberta Darling along with Mequon Representative Jim Ott proposed several tough measures last session, but they stalled after estimates showed they would have cost millions of additional dollars.

According to the pair in an editorial published in the Milwaukee Journal, both lawmakers are fighting for all first-time drunk drivers to appear in court instead of just having to pay a ticket. They are calling for all drunk drivers with a blood alcohol content measuring 0.15 and higher to be treated as a crime. Additionally, they want all drivers convicted of three or more drunk driving convictions to face a felony and have their vehicle seized along with a minimum mandatory prison sentence for any convicted drunk driver who causes injury (possibly three years) or death (possibly 10 years).

Currently in Wisconsin, a first drunk driving violation is a civil violation and only becomes a misdemeanor if a child younger than 16 is in the vehicle. A fourth OWI is considered a felony, but only if it occurs within five years of an earlier offense. They argue that studies have shown before someone is arrested for drunk driving, they may have driven intoxicated up to 87 times.

According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, out of 562 people who died in a traffic accident alcohol was involved in nearly 40 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2010. Their data showed Wisconsin has the highest rate of drunk driving in the nation, with more than 26 percent of Wisconsin adults admitting in a survey they had driven under the influence within the previous year.

If you or your loved one has suffered serious personal injuries at the hands of a drunk driver, it is important to discuss your specific situation with an experienced Wisconsin injury attorney. Call today for your initial consultation.


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