Rotunda Report: Legislators Push for Tougher OWI Laws:

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    Legislators Push for Tougher OWI Laws

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    Cale BattlesCale 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.


    Rotunda Report is the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Government Relations e-newsletter that highlights legislative, judicial, and administrative developments that impact the legal profession and the justice system. It is published twice a month and is distributed free to attorneys, public officials and others who help shape public policy in Wisconsin. We invite your org pubaffairs wisbar suggestions to make the Rotunda Report more informative and useful and we encourage you to visit our website for the most current information about justice-related issues.