MADISON - Wisconsin is on the verge of toughening its drunk driving laws.
On Wednesday morning, the Wisconsin State Assembly concurred with a Senate bill which increase penalties for repeat drunk drivers authored by State Representative Jim Ott and State Senator Alberta Darling. Representative Ott says he hopes the increasing penalties will make repeat offenders think before they get behind the wheel.
"This bill expands the ability of district attorneys and judges to deal with chronic repeat offenders by giving them longer prison sentences," Ott said, "Hopefully, that's enough to get some people to change their behavior."
Current law allows prosecutors to let some multiple drunk drivers off the hook. Senate Bill 455 increases penalties for multiple offenders and makes the fourth offense a felony, no matter when it occurs. The bill aligns state law with surrounding states in how multiple offenders are penalized. Senator Darling says it's time to change the way Wisconsin deals with repeat offenders.
"Our state will be safer when this bill is signed," Darling said, "Our laws haven't been tough enough to deal with drunk driving. It's my hope that these changes will be a huge step forward in making Wisconsin safer."
Senate Bill 455 now heads to Governor Walker's desk for final approval.