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December 17, 2009

Legislature Strengthens DUI Laws


(State Capitol, Madison) . . . The Wisconsin State Legislature overwhelming voted for legislation to strengthen the state’s DUI laws by targeting repeat offenders, increasing penalties, expanding use of ignition interlock devices, and extending options for alcohol treatment.  The bill is expected to be signed by the Governor. 


“I am glad the Legislature took much-needed action to crack down on drunk drivers,” said State Senator Sheila Harsdorf, who supported the bill.  “Drunk driving in our state poses a threat to anyone traveling on our roads and we cannot tolerate repeat offenders that are responsible for so much loss of life.”


Passage of the bill marks the first comprehensive strengthening of DUI laws in years.  Under the legislation, first time offenses with a child in the car would become criminal offenses, while ignition interlock devices would be required for all repeat offenders and those with a blood-alcohol content exceeding .15 on the first offense.  The bill also adds felony level penalties for repeat offenders in addition to expanding options for county treatment programs.


“This legislation takes positive steps to curb recidivism,” said Harsdorf.  “It takes a comprehensive approach to addressing drunk driving in Wisconsin, by not only targeting repeat offenders and bringing penalties in line with the threats drunk drivers pose, but also by dealing with issues of treatment and prevention.”


From 1999 to 2008, 3,196 people died in drunk driving crashes in Wisconsin, with another 67,588 people injured.  Costs to taxpayers from drunk drivers from the resulting deaths and destruction have been estimated to be well over $6.5 billion during those ten years.