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Wisconsin Supreme Court clarifies drunk driving law


Drunk driving charges are serious, regardless of whether a person has faced similar allegations in the past. Though critics of Wisconsin's first time DUI offense penalty of a civil ticket state that a ticket is too lenient for the crime of drunk driving, the costs and hardships of facing DUI charges can affect a person for a long time. Individuals facing multiple subsequent DUIs have always faced tougher penalties than first time offenders, and a recent decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court provides some clarity on how some alleged offenders will be punished for engaging in multiple DUI crimes.

In a unanimous ruling the state Supreme Court provided clarification on legislative language that seemed to permit judicial discretion in sentencing subsequent DUI offenders. Pursuant to the recent ruling, anyone who is convicted of a seventh or greater drunk driving offense must be incarcerated. This matter came to the Supreme Court after a man accused of his seventh alcohol-related driving offense successfully argued that imprisonment was not required by the language of the law.

The penalties associated with drunk driving charges can range from a first time offender ticket to imprisonment. Felony DUI can land a person in prison for many years and can cost the person many rights and freedoms. While the Wisconsin Supreme Court has made its position on drunk driving clear based on this judicial decision, it is important for people facing DUI charges to remember that they have the rights to defend themselves and confront the charges brought against them.

For a prosecutor to successfully bring DUI charges against a person that prosecutor must meet all of the legal requirements of the particular charge. If the prosecutor fails to do so then, prosecutor cannot prove the person's case. When individuals charged with DUI crimes prepare themselves to confront their charges they can sometimes prevent prosecutors from proving their cases and therefore can achieve freedom from the significant penalties associated with drunk driving convictions.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal, "Ruling puts chronic drunks on notice," July 17, 2014

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