There is no doubt that driving while drunk can be dangerous. Here in Wisconsin, however, individuals facing their first drunk driving charges have generally been granted a second chance to drive responsibly before being charged with a crime. For some it is an opportunity to learn from a bad mistake that will never be repeated.
A state representative had been pushing fellow Wisconsin legislators to back a bill that would have made a DUI first offense a criminal misdemeanor. At present Wisconsin is the only state in the country that does not criminalize first-time DUIs.
The bill would have imposed misdemeanor penalties on first-time offenders that had BAC levels in excess of .15. That amount is almost two times the state's legal limit for motor vehicle operation and it is unclear how first-time offenders with BAC levels under .15 would have been charged under the proposal.
Noting that many state district attorneys also opposed the bill due to the difference in how the law could be applied to different offenders, the representative still believes that other bills still in legislative committees may tighten up Wisconsin's drunk driving laws. Those bills have not yet been placed on the legislative calendar for voting. One such bill is targeted at first-time offenders and would require those individuals to appear in court.
Despite this representative's perceived setback of the first-time DUI misdemeanor plan falling through, individuals in Wisconsin can still face a tough road when faced with any drunk driving charges. A good DUI offense can protect an individual's rights and save the person the headache of fighting a drunk driving charge all alone.
Source: Today's TMJ 4, "Bill to toughen drunk driving penalties hits setback," Charles Benson, Sep. 17, 2013