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Do penalties prevent drunk driving in Wisconsin?


Many people have encountered debates on how best to motivate humans into performing their best. From schools to business and to even the legal system, whether it is better to reward a person for good behavior or punish him for bad behavior is hotly contested and strongly divided. This very conversation is currently occurring here in Wisconsin regarding penalties for drunk driving offenses.

Depending upon the jurisdiction where the drunk driving arrest occurs penalty fines can be very steep. Though a person may only think the individual has to pay the several hundred dollars associated with his ticket the person is often surprised to learn that a conviction also requires a person to pay other expenses such as court costs. Those costs can double or even triple the amount of money a person owes for incurring a drunk driving charge.

Some people think that high fines deter drunk driving because repeat offenses drop off significantly after a person's first drunk driving arrest. Others believe that few people think about fines in advance of arrests and that many do not believe that they will not be caught. Regardless of which side a person falls on in this debate does not undo the fact that currently drunk driving offenses are very expensive to overcome.

Drunk driving convictions can do more than empty a person's wallet. They can cause people to lose their license temporarily or permanently. They can require a person to install an ignition interlock device that requires the person to blow an alcohol-free breath in order to start the person's car. They can even require a person to spend some time in jail if the charges involve injuries or death.

It is up in the air as to whether high fines are the answer for curtailing drunk driving in Wisconsin. As it stands many people will be ticketed for DUI throughout the rest of the year. These people need to know their legal options for avoiding these high fines and other penalties.

Source: Wisconsin Law Journal, "OWI fines hefty, but deterrence effect debated," April 20, 2014

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