In what may seem like common sense, the debate over habitual drunk drivers in Wisconsin has been ended by the state Supreme Court: if you drive drunk seven or more times in Wisconsin, you are going to jail for at least three years. In a state well known for having loose OWI laws, resolving this legal loophole that could put a habitual drunk driver back on the road was important for the safety of residents in the state. Once a person has acquired more than half a dozen drunk driving convictions, it is difficult to imagine them ever driving safely again. But, what happens before that seventh drunk driving conviction?
Habitual drunk drivers in Wisconsin are certainly dealt with more seriously than most first-time offenders. Penalties for a habitual drunk driver include potential jail time, fines, court costs and either immobilizing their car or installing an ignition interlock device. Ignition interlock devices are also ordered for first-time offenders with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of arrest, or for anyone who refuses the breathalyzer test during a traffic stop.
Once a drunk driver in Wisconsin has two or more OWI convictions, they’re seen as a habitual offender and the restrictions increase, along with fines, court costs and other consequences, like jail time. Ignition interlock devices are so great for establishing the sobriety of drivers, the future of habitual OWI offenders in Wisconsin is uncertain. Allowing these men and women the chance to drive again, under the watchful eye of an ignition interlock device, could decrease the rate of repeat drunk driving offenses and promote healthy behaviors throughout the state. With an alarming number of habitual drunk drivers in Wisconsin, the threat of jail may not be enough to keep the streets safe, but, an ignition interlock device certainly is.