According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, OWI convictions have dropped a lot over the last few years. For example, in 2010 there were more than 32,000 OWI convictions in the state while just last year there were just over 24,000. Many people credit the state's SafeRide program with helping to cut down on drunk driving within Wisconsin's borders, but the SafeRide program has run into financial problems as the number of drunk driving convictions has gone down.
SafeRide gets money based on how many drunk driving convictions occur in Wisconsin. Therefore, as such convictions have gone down, the program has struggled to keep running. That is why the state added to its budget a new fee that will be imposed against individuals who are convicted of drunk driving charges.
For the last several months, anyone convicted of drunk driving in the state has had to pay an extra $50 fee. That fee is given directly to SafeRide to keep the program operational. SafeRide ridership has increased over the years, and many see its use as playing a part in the overall decrease in state drunk driving convictions over time.
While programs like SafeRide provide a good public service and may help keep some drivers from being behind the wheels of vehicles when doing so might not otherwise be safe, many drivers will find themselves paying this additional fee when they are wrongly convicted of drunk driving charges.
Past post on this DUI defense blog have discussed the potential consequences of a drunk driving conviction; this fee is one more consequence a driver will be subjected to when he is convicted of a drunk driving offense.
Source: WBAY.com, "Drunk Drivers Pay for SafeRide Program Under New State Mandate," Sarah Thomsen, Sept. 15, 2015