Perhaps it’s the weather. . . who knows! But Wisconsin has the worst record for binge drinking and drunk driving in America. So its lawmakers have been looking at the laws currently in place. They now believe these laws are too weak. They are not a deterrent. So they are working on a new bill which passed the Assembly on an 88-7 vote. It seems Republicans and Democrats can agree on some things.
This bill which now goes to the Senate would make two changes. In every case, a second charge of drunk driving will automatically be treated as a misdemeanor. Similarly, a fourth charge of drunk driving will automatically be treated as a felony with the probability of jail time for those convicted.
So drunk driving is not a crime in Wisconsin? Correct! This is the only US state to treat the first offense of drunk driving as a municipal violation. Although the civil penalty is higher than the criminal penalties in most other states, the decision not to treat this is a “real” crime sends the wrong message to Wisconsin drivers. Whether this bill will pass into law is doubtful, but it’s a start to make sensible reforms.