Wisconsin is not exactly known for its tough take on drunk drivers. Just one look at the current penalties for first-time OWI offenders can be enough to make us all question why they do not seem to feel that drunk driving is a problem. For those who are well beyond the slap-on-the-wrist penalties for a first-time Wisconsin OWI, there may be a big problem looming in the legislative distance: a lifetime driver’s license revocation for habitual offenses.
A proposed law, Wisconsin SB 135, would take away the driver’s license of Wisconsin OWI offenders who:
- Have been convicted of four or more drunk driving incidents.
- Two or more drunk driving offenses plus any other felonies that occurred during those drunk driving incidents (fatalities, injuries, etc.).
While there is always a bit of skepticism when it comes to Wisconsin OWI laws changing, this bill seems to have legs. It has the support of MADD, of the Tavern League, state legislators, and the good people of Wisconsin. Unlike a recent attempt to expand ignition interlock access for all Wisconsin OWI offenders, this bill may have the momentum to make it all the way into the law books. That’s one way to keep habitual Wisconsin OWI offenders from drinking and driving.
Ignition interlocks, however, are a tried and true way to prevent further Wisconsin OWI incidents, and long before a third or fourth incident occurs. Revoking a license of a habitual offender will certainly impact the safety of roads in Wisconsin, but there are plenty of ways to stop a drunk driver from repeating a crime before it becomes a habit. Hopefully, the new bill will just be another sign that the state is ready to start taking all drunk driving problems seriously and increase efforts for safety accordingly.