NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Wisconsin will consider tougher drunk driving laws again this year. Again the status-quo has the upper hand in a state that has higher-than-average alcohol consumption.
Currently Wisconsin has the most-lax drunk driving laws in the nation, where a first time offense isn’t considered a criminal matter.
There’s a new twist in the argument that should be examined further. Assembly speaker Robin Vos says one reason against mandatory jail time is the cost: about $11-million to lock up drunk drivers who are third time offenders. Vos says we need to have a debate over the best way to use our financial resources to fight the problem.
He’s wrong. Spending money to incarcerate repeat drunk drivers is one of the highest uses of state tax dollars. It keeps me and my family safe from people who are so reckless, and who refuse to change their behavior, that they’re likely to kill or injure someone. People like that – who are a clear danger to others – need to be incarcerated.
Here’s my drunk driving proposal, which are ideas that are already in place in many other states: For first time offenders: a mandatory fine and a 30-day license suspension. The drunk driver can pay an additional fee to be reinstated. Special penalties should be in place for driving without a license because of drunk driving – 90-days in jail. For second timers: a triple-damages fine, and a one year suspension. For third timers: mandatory jail time.
Remember, every drunk driver who gets caught has driven drunk before and gotten away with it. It’s not a situation where they deserve leniency.
If you don’t like my proposal, fine. Pick any other state at random – from Maine to California, Texas to Illinois – and make Wisconsin’s law the same as theirs. I’m certain that it’ll be an improvement over what we have now.