Earlier this week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law a bill that clarifies jail and prison sentences for repeat drunk drivers and drunk drivers who injure another person. Under the new law, drunk drivers who injure someone must spend at least 30 days in jail while seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-time DUI offenders must spend at least three years in prison.
Under current law, drunk drivers who injure another person must spend 30 days to 1 year in jail. Repeat drunk drivers convicted for the seventh, eighth, or ninth time must spend 3 to 10 years in prison.
The bill was the only one of nearly a dozen drunk driving-related bills that Wisconsin lawmakers passed this legislative session. Rather than establish a new drunk driving-related law or strengthen a current DUI law, the new law simply clarifies an existing law. However, it seems only to reword the current law.
The bill’s passage received criticism, as many felt lawmakers didn’t do enough to address the state’s drunk driving problem by passing this law in place of nearly a dozen others that could have reduced drunk driving in the state. Considering that Wisconsin is the only state that does not criminalize a first DUI offense and has the highest drunk driving rate in the nation, it’s hard to argue with such criticism.
We applaud lawmakers who drafted the unpassed drunk driving bills that were created to combat drunk driving. However, we hope that the Wisconsin legislature will take a stand against drunk driving in the next legislative session by passing laws that will not just clarify the state’s current drunk driving laws but strengthen them.