Proposed Bills Would Increase Penalties for Repeat Drunk Driving Convictions
Wisconsin lawmakers have proposed three new bills that would cause significant changes to the state’s drunk driving laws.
The proposed bills would increase the penalties for repeat vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) offenses in Wisconsin, which is the only state in the U.S. that treats a first-time drunken driving offense as a civil citation instead of a crime.
If the new legislation were to pass, the bills would:
- Create a minimum prison sentence of five years for homicide while driving drunk.
- Raise the minimum sentence for fifth- and sixth-time offenders from six months to 18 months.
- Prosecute all offenders for driving without an ignition interlock device that requires a driver to blow into the reader and be cleared for an alcohol free reading before the vehicle can start. OWI offenders are currently required to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, but the proposed legislation would require an offender to be prosecuted if he or she is caught driving without both an ignition interlock device and a license.
Several of these proposals are not new to Wisconsin’s Legislature. State lawmakers have been trying to increase the penalties for OWI offenses for several years.
Wisconsin has had a turbulent history with drunken driving, as approximately 24,000 people were convicted of OWI in 2015. There were also 190 deaths and 2,900 impaired driving-related injuries reported in Wisconsin that year.
In 2016, a AAA study revealed that 40 percent of drivers in Wisconsin admitted to having operated a vehicle within two hours of consuming high amounts of alcohol. One in five Wisconsin residents between the ages of 21 and 34 also revealed to have driven directly after having an alcoholic beverage.
Advocates for stricter penalties feel emboldened after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker approved legislation that increases the penalties for OWI offenders who have received more than four convictions, which was enacted at the start of 2017.
Driving after consuming alcohol is a reckless act that has potentially fatal consequences. It is illegal and completely avoidable if plans for a safe ride home are made before drinking.
If you have been injured or someone you love has been killed by a drunk driver, you may be able to seek compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Our Milwaukee car accident lawyers will be able to assist you in all matters concerning insurance companies and legal procedures. We can further discuss your situation in a free consultation and determine if legal action is in your best interest. We also work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will not charge you any fees unless we help you recover damages.
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