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Proposed laws would increase penalties for drunk driving charges

The Wisconsin legislature is back in session and a host of proposed bills are moving through the state's various committees. While the drafters of these prospective laws undoubtedly believe that the bills' passages would improve life for people living in the state, some of the possible new laws would drastically change how certain alcohol-related charges are penalized.

Six bills that address drunk driving charges have cleared their committee and are now eligible for voting by the full state legislative body. Among them are proposals that would make felony charges out of a person's third and fourth alcohol-related driving charges. As the law now stands, these charges are misdemeanors with significantly lighter legal consequences.

Also up for vote is a bill that would require anyone convicted of drunk driving and who seriously hurt another person as a result of an accident to spend at least three years in jail. While a state representative attempted to add terms to these bills that would address how the additional costs of their implementation would be covered, his additions did not make it into the final bills and were defeated by other representatives.

If these bills pass, people facing drunk driving charges in Wisconsin could endure very serious potential consequences if they are convicted of the charges against them. As state residents wait to see if these proposals become law, individuals who are dealing with drunk driving offenses may consider consulting with legal professionals to make sure their rights are recognized by the judicial system and that their defenses are clearly presented to the court at trial.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio News, "Bill Would Increase Penalties For Drunk Drivers," Gilman Halsted, Sept. 13, 2013

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