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Political candidates split on drunk driving offenses

As has previously been mentioned on this blog, Wisconsin is the only state in the country that does not make a first time DUI a crime. Rather, a driver who is found to have committed DUI is given a citation. In other states across the nation a similar offense is met with a criminal misdemeanor charge.

Whether Wisconsin should change its first time DUI policy is a matter of contention between the candidates for the office of state attorney general. At present the four candidates are evenly split on whether the law should stay as it is or if it should change. Two candidates believe that first time DUI offenses should be misdemeanors while the other two are less ready to make such drunk driving offenses criminal acts.

The choice that Wisconsin residents make for the new attorney general could impact what happens with this important piece of drunk driving legislation. Advocates who support keeping the law as it is claim that many people found to be intoxicated while driving never make such mistakes again. They feel that a single criminal mark on a person's record could be detrimental to his future, especially when the mistake is made at a young age.

Individuals who want to see the law changed stress that drunk driving kills many people across the state each year. They believe that no amount of drunk driving should be excused and that people should be penalized for their actions when alcohol and driving are involved. Advocates on both sides of the argument have financially weighed in on the issue by providing campaign contributions to candidates who support their particular views.

Wisconsin voters will have to decide who they want for the state's attorney general. That decision may bring with it changes to the state's drunk driving laws. As it stands a first time DUI offense does not result in a person being charged with a crime, but that could change as political turnover approaches in state government.

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Democrats running for attorney general differ on drunk driving," Patrick Marley, Aug. 4, 2014

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