Wisconsin Politician Seeks Harsher Drunk Driving Penalties

Accusations of driving under the influence are serious under any circumstances. However, many times charges are based on the subjective observations of a police officer or could be subject to human error when breath tests are administered. One Wisconsin politician, Rep. Jim Ott, wants to make penalties for drunk driving convictions harsher even though his previous efforts to do so have been unsuccessful.

As part of the attempt, Rep. Ott, along with Sen. Alberta Darling, introduced three different bills. Although he has introduced similar bills in the past, he is more hopeful that these will pass as they have been modified to some degree. Recently, a law was passed establishing maximum sentences for certain repeat offenders and making a fourth drunk driving conviction a felony. The success of this law gives the originators of the most recent bills more confidence that the proposals will be passed.

The first bill would establish a minimum sentence of five years for those convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle; under current law, there is no minimum established. A second bill would require all DUI offenders with a BAC of .15 or higher to have an ignition interlock system in any vehicle they operate. Although there is a similar law in place currently, Rep. Ott argues that the law he proposes would apply to those convicted who drive someone else's vehicle. The third law would increase the minimum period of incarceration for those who are convicted for a fifth and sixth time to 18 months; under current law, the minimum sentence is six months.

While similar bills have not made it to a vote in Wisconsin in the past, Rep. Ott is hopeful that changes he has made will allow them to be more successful this year. Additionally, he argues that he has the support of the Tavern League lobby which opposed his measures in the past. If passed, those accused of drunk driving could face harsher penalties, making the need for a strong defense even more pressing. An experienced attorney can help those facing such accusations fully understand their options as well as the potential outcomes of any decision they make.

Source: claimsjournal.com, "Wisconsin Legislators Reignite Fight Against Drunk Driving", Todd Richmond, Feb. 7, 2017