Losing a loved one to drunk driving—it’s a profound loss, the gravity of which cannot be captured by words alone. As a legislator who works to remedy problems for the people of the 5th Senate District, it’s frustrating to realize there is nothing within the power of the legislative body to make up for that kind of tragedy. At the same time, we can make a few wrongs right in the name of those who senselessly lost their lives to a preventable crime.
In honor of the victims of repeat drunk drivers, I have proposed a comprehensive proposal aimed at getting those offenders off the streets through tougher sanctions and prevention programs.
My proposed legislation would:
- Make the third OWI offense within five years a felony
- Make all fourth OWI offenses a felony
- Expand Winnebago County’s successful “Safe Streets” pilot program
- Require the Judicial Council to develop statewide sentencing guidelines for OWI offenses
- Mandate Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) or immobilization if second OWI offense is .16 or above and for all third offenses
This bill is going before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 4 at Noon, and I encourage you to join me in urging my colleagues in the Capitol to pass this bill. The Legislature will have failed if we don’t address this issue, and the stakes are just too great to accept failure and defeat.
Working on this issue is not new to me. Last session, I successfully passed legislation that provided incremental penalties for drunk drivers. This package further strengthens the tools and options available to Wisconsin’s law enforcement and court systems. But the fight to make our streets the safest they can be is not over. If you have lost a loved one to drunk driving, or you are a concerned resident, please contact me with any ideas you have that could help prevent drunk driving in our area. You can reach me anytime at 866-817-6061.