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Proposed drunk driving laws could prevent Wisconsin crashes

"We have a problem in Wisconsin. Too many people drive drunk. We have too many people that are injured," asserts state lawmaker Jim Ott. He is behind various legislative ideas that would tackle the problem of drunk driving and the car accidents that result from the behavior.

Relative to other places in the U.S., Wisconsin takes a more lenient stance against drunk driving. The more relaxed rules against operating while intoxicated must change, argue safety advocates. Drivers must know that they will face serious consequences if caught driving while intoxicated.

Currently, for example, drivers who are caught driving drunk for the first time don't face much trouble at all. It takes a repeat OWI for the driver to be charged with even a misdemeanor. Among the legislative ideas regarding drunk driving in Wisconsin are the following:

  • First-time offenders should be charged with a crime if their blood alcohol content is 0.15 and above.
  • An OWI offense should be considered a felony before the fourth time (which is current law). A third offense should lead to a felony charge.
  • All OWI offenses in Wisconsin should be met with fines, whether it is a first or a fifth, for example.

Lawmakers are not saying that people in Wisconsin should stop drinking alcohol. Strict drunk driving laws are not meant to outlaw the enjoyment of a drink. The laws should make people think before drinking about their transportation needs and options and how they can get a sober ride home.

Once someone is intoxicated, it is often too late for him to make the decision to not drive drunk. His judgment is already compromised.

Poor planning leads to OWI charges and accidents but isn't an excuse for reckless behavior. Our law firm helps victims of car accidents caused by drunk driving, victims whose lives were put at risk because someone's negligence in planning led to him driving while intoxicated.

Source: WXOW News 19, "Lawmakers look to crack down on drunken driving," Heather Burian, Jan. 4, 2013

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