Cale Battles is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached at org cbattles wisbar wisbar cbattles org, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.
Feb. 20, 2013 – State Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) have renewed their push to pass tougher OWI laws in Wisconsin. Last week, Rep. Ott and Sen. Darling began circulating for co-sponsorship a package of legislative bills to crack down on new and repeat offenders.
The individual bills contain a number of law changes that the legislators say will align Wisconsin laws with other states. The main focus of the package includes a legislative proposal to change the third offense OWI from a criminal misdemeanor to a felony. Lawmakers have attempted to pass this legislative change for a number of years, only to see rising fiscal concerns, including increased prison costs, defeating the concept.
The OWI package would also include:
Require all first time OWI offenders to make a personal appearance in court
Create a mandatory minimum sentences ranging from six months to three years depending upon the severity of the injury caused
Create a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for a homicide while intoxicated
Allows law enforcement to seize offender vehicles for three or more OWI offenses
Under the proposed legislation, a first time OWI offender would also be charged with a criminal offense if their blood alcohol level came in above 0.15.
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