Nobody panic, but there may be new Wisconsin ignition interlock requirements for drunk drivers soon. All drunk drivers. Not just the super dangerous ones, either. ALL DRUNK DRIVERS. This is not a test.
Wisconsin has historically been one of the most lenient states regarding drunk drivers. Some say it’s the “beer culture” while others may note the influence of alcohol lobbyists in the state. For whatever reasons, Wisconsin ignition interlock requirements don’t kick in until there’s a habitual problem, or in cases of a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC). That’s not nearly as surprising as the law that treats many first-time OWI offenses as mere traffic violations. Wisconsin doesn’t even have a criminal charge against those who put lives at risk on the roads like they do in every other state in the U.S. OWI just isn’t a big thing in the state… but that could be changing.
Rep. Jim Ott is reintroducing legislature that stalled in the Wisconsin assembly in 2014. Three bills, in fact, are making their rounds through the Wisconsin capital:
- 2017 Assembly Bill 98 / 2017 Senate Bill 74: Prohibits all OWI offenders from driving any vehicle without an ignition interlock device.
- 2017 Assembly Bill 97 / 2017 Senate Bill 73: Creates a five-year minimum prison sentence for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.
- 2017 Assembly Bill 99 / 2017 Senate Bill 72: Raises the minimum incarceration for fifth and sixth OWI offenses from six months to 18 months.
Each of those bills has the potential to really impact safety in the state and show everyone that Wisconsin is serious about drunk driving. Perhaps this year, Wisconsin ignition interlock and other OWI laws can show a dedication to serve the needs of the people, over the needs of those who want more drinks served.
Don’t let these vital laws stall again this year. Take action and show your support for increasing Wisconsin OWI penalties. Contact your state lawmakers today!