Wisconsin driving under the influence laws are considered comparatively loose. Lawmakers are brainstorming ways to deter drunk driving in the state. State legislators are discussing an increase in penalties for drunk driving charges, and new proposals will likely be introduced in the fall.
Under current legislation, a fourth DUI charge is classified as felony if it is within five years of a previous conviction. One suggestion is to lower the felony threshold to the third offense while another suggestion recommends that the first offense be labeled a felony if the person's blood alcohol content is .15 percent or higher.
While one representative does not necessarily want harsher penalties, he feels tougher consequences could be the answer to reducing DUIs and their accompanying fatalities. On average, 200 people are killed yearly in Wisconsin because of DUIs. Even a 20 percent reduction in deaths could help with traffic safety. Opponents of the law argue that costs could exceed $300 million. They contend that increased time in custody is punishment but will not prevent crime. Another suggestion supports the use of ignition interlock devices on vehicles in order to deter some offenders. Another proposal recommends banning "all you can drink" specials at bars and suggests that law enforcement use sobriety checkpoints. A final proposal involves using special license plates for felons convicted of DUI. While all of the plans cost money, representatives will consider which plans will be most cost-effective.
The proposed changes to drunk driving laws might mean increased penalties for felons convicted of DUI. A Milwaukee criminal defense attorney might be able to negotiate reduced consequences with prosecutors, especially for a first-time offender.
Source: WUWM, "Lawmakers Again Propose Tougher Drunken Driving Legislation," Marti Mikkelson, Feb. 25, 2013