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Wisconsin lawmaker seeks stiffer penalties for DWI deaths

A man was recently sentenced to a 90-day prison sentence due to his involvement in a fatal drunk driving accident. This sentence sparked a renewed debate on what types of sentences are appropriate for someone who commits a similar crime. If one Wisconsin state senator has her way, the minimum sentence for such a fatal car crash would be much longer.

A Republican senator from River Hills cites a case in which a 24-year-old man hit and killed a bicyclist while driving drunk after a Packers game. The 24-year-old pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 90 days in jail with work release. The senator is calling for the minimum sentence for similar crimes to be 10 years in prison. The man's attorney disagrees. He argues that his client was never in trouble before and that the sentence was appropriate.

In addition to the efforts of the senator, the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin is seeking tougher penalties for these types of accidents as well. The group is lobbying to create a law that would make it a felony to kill or injure cyclists, pedestrians and other people if the driver committed traffic violations that are considered less severe than DUI.

While 90 days may seem like a short sentence for someone who's killed another person, the family in this case has another way to seek justice against the man who took away their loved one. The victims of a wrongful death have the legal right to sue those responsible for killing their loved one. Cases such as this one can be complex. An attorney may be able to help this family determine what compensation they may be entitled to from the drunk driver.

Source: Pioneer Press, "Wisconsin: 90-day sentence in DWI death renews debate", August 10, 2013

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