Prior posts on this blog have discussed how Wisconsin addresses first-time drunk driving offenses. Wisconsin is the only state in the country that does not criminalize first time DUI charges. Critics from inside and outside the state's borders have condemned this practice as merely a slap on the wrist for what some consider a dangerous behavior.
However, Wisconsin's law may also give some drivers the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and preserve their clean criminal records. When individuals are charged with crimes for offenses like drunk driving, those charges can linger on their records for years and create problems for them down the road. For some, avoiding a criminal charge for a first-time drunk driving offense can be all they need to ensure that they will never drink and drive again.
Regardless of what side of the debate a Wisconsin resident sits on, everyone in the state should know that this controversial law may soon be changing. A recent poll taken by the Marquette Law School suggests that the majority of Wisconsin residents support criminalizing first time DUI charges. The poll suggests that 55 percent of residents would be fine with changing the law while only 39 percent desire to keep the law as it is.
Changing the law is only one way that the state could address perceived drunk driving problems with its residents. By making DUI first offenses into crimes, the state would increase the potential consequences faced by a person who made a single bad judgment. As interest in this issue grows, residents may see a change in the law and experience tougher sanctions for first-time drunk driving charges.
Source: WEAU.com, "New poll shows Wisconsin wants harsher penalty for first time DUI," Noelle Anderson, Oct. 31, 2014