June 04, 2009




Senate begins work on drunk driving initiatives, addresses costs and savings

(Madison) Senator Lena C Taylor today convened two hearings in a full day of legislative work on the issue of

drunk driving. The Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties met in the morning session of committee

activity to receive testimony on the various bills modifying the criminal penalties for Operating While

Intoxicated penalties. Convening the Joint Review Committee prior to standing committee action is a new

precedent in the Legislature for estimating the full cost of criminal penalty revisions.

“Our committee action today is fulfilling the best interests of policy-making in the legislature,” Taylor

commented. “By reviewing costs, savings, and the impact on the justice system by a particular bill, the

standing committees will have a better sense of what their actions will bring about. It is my hope that

committee chairs in the Legislature will recognize the need for this in-depth discussion on legislation.”

The Joint Review Committee received written and oral testimonies from agencies and justice system

participants, including the Departments of Justice, Corrections, Transportation, Health Services, the Director of

State Courts, Judicial Council, Office of the Public Defender, District Attorneys, and others. Some estimates of

proposed penalty revisions are estimated to cost the state over 120 million dollars annually and require

creation of numerous state employee positions.

In the afternoon session, the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance

Reform, and Housing, is holding a public hearing on SB 66, authored by committee vice-chair, Senator Jim

Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa). Senate Bill 66 is an omnibus package of reform initiatives designed to provide

enforcement, prevention, and treatment for those convicted of operating while intoxicated.

“At the urging of Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, Senate Bill 66 will begin the Senate work on the issue of

drunk driving,” Taylor noted. “With over 15 bills pending in the legislature on this issue, Senator Sullivan’s

omnibus bill is an obvious starting point to address the many initiatives to combat drunk driving. Many in

Wisconsin have contacted the Legislature about this issue. Today is their opportunity to influence the


Both committees that are meeting on drunk driving are expected to take further action on the issue over the

summer committee work-period. Taylor hopes for a fruitful discussion on the issue with stakeholders,

interested parties, and affected state and local agencies.


Madison Office - 608-266-5810

Room 5, South Wing
State Capitol , P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882