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Wisconsin legislators hope to toughen DUI laws

All states have laws that aim to deter drunken driving, with harsher penalties being doled out to drivers who are repeatedly arrested for DUI or who cause accidents while drunk behind the wheel.

Some people think Wisconsin has lenient drunk driving laws, but anyone who has had to pay a fine or spend time in jail for a DUI arrest would likely disagree. Still, two state lawmakers, Senator Alberta Darling and Representative Jim Ott, are hoping to change the current DWI laws in Wisconsin during the 2013 legislative session.

Among their list of proposed changes are harsher penalties that would include criminalization of certain first-time DUI offenses, the establishment of mandatory minimum sentences for drunk drivers who cause accidents, and making a third-time DUI offense a felony. The same changes were proposed in the last session but were not passed into law.

If these measures are enacted, more Wisconsin drivers are sure to find themselves on the wrong side of the law if their blood-alcohol level is determined to be above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Harsher penalties would mean that people convicted of DWI would feel the effects in the form of lost driving privileges, fines and jail sentences. While it remains to be seen whether the proposals will be approved this time around, anyone facing a DUI charge needs to be aware of the potential penalties in order to defend against them.

Source: Sheboyganpress.com, "Wisconsin lawmakers try again on drunken driving laws," Dec. 31, 2012

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