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Work continues on drunk driving bills

MADISON (WRN)   Efforts to pass tougher laws targeting drunk driving in Wisconsin appear to be making slow progress through the Legislature.

An Assembly committee took action last month on several bills that would impose tougher penalties for driving drunk, including requiring court appearances for certain first offenses and making third and fourth offense Operating While Intoxicated a felony. However, the Assembly returned for its fall Legislative session Tuesday without any clear plans to take up the bills.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) says work continues on the legislation with the goal of building a consensus on what approach to take with the state Senate. Vos says “as we go through this, we want to make sure we can get bills that pass both chambers.”

Among the concerns with the bills is the increase financial costs they could bring on local governments and prosecutors, who would likely have to deal with more court cases and longer jail sentences for repeat offenders. Vos says “if we’re going to invest resources in preventing drunk driving, there might be ways other than just simply locking people up.”

Vos says he’s hopeful the Assembly will be able to act on a broad range of bills before the session ends.