Are Wisconsin OWI Offenders Skipping Their Interlocks?

Wisconsin OWI The news is full of stories about drunk drivers violating Wisconsin OWI laws, and that’s not really surprising all things considered. At this time first time offenders who are arrested for Wisconsin OWI receive what amounts to nothing more than a traffic ticket.

But letting those first-time offenders get off easily can result in that person becoming a second, third, or four-time offender, and once they get to that point the Wisconsin penalty system will kick in and they’ll be forced to pay the price.

Unfortunately a lot of offenders seem to be weighing whether or not they want to actually comply with those penalties, many people may be skipping out on their ignition interlock program. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there were over 300 convictions relating to either tampering with or failing to install an ignition interlock.

An ignition interlock—a device that requires the drunk driving offender to blow an alcohol-free breath sample before the engine will turn over, is required to be installed on every repeat Wisconsin OWI offender’s vehicle. They are also required for any first-time offender who is arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or higher and anyone who refuses the breathalyzer when suspected of drunk driving.

Without an ignition interlock to stop a convicted drunk driver, that driver can continue to get behind the wheel while drunk. If that happens, he or she could easily crash and kill someone or themselves. That’s why the Wisconsin Bureau of Transportation Safety plans on creating a ignition interlock monitoring program.

In order to monitor all ignition interlock offenders, the bureau will need to pair with law enforcement and keep track of all offenders and all data relating to an ignition interlock. From the moment of arrest that person will need to be tracked, and that’s a big project for the state.

But out of all the states that should make the effort, Wisconsin is at the top of the list. More than fines, fees, and even jail time, ignition interlocks need to be part of a drunk driver’s rehabilitation program. If they aren’t, there’s no way to change their behavior.

Wisconsin Ignition Interlock Loophole Officially Closed

Wisconsin ignition interlockThere’s a lot going on in Wisconsin, not the least of which is that Wisconsin ignition interlock laws are officially changing for the better. But is ‘better’ enough to stop drunk drivers in the state?

Governor Walker just signed several new bills into law, and one of them dealt with Wisconsin ignition interlock interlock laws. An ignition interlock — a device that requires a convicted drunk driver to blow into a tube to assess his or her blood alcohol content (BAC), is currently not required for first time offenders in Wisconsin. Repeat offenders are required to install the device.

The bill closes a loophole in Wisconsin ignition interlock law that allowed these offenders to avoid installing the device at all. Because an offender is required to lose his or driver’s license for a period of time, they were only required by the court to install an ignition interlock when the driver’s license was reinstated.

Some operating while impaired (OWI) offenders in Wisconsin were driving their cars before their license was reinstated, but if they were stopped for driving on that suspended license, they wouldn’t receive a citation for driving without an interlock. That’s because the interlock wasn’t required yet. The problem with an offender driving on a suspended license is that there is nothing to stop that person from driving drunk again.

The bill changes Wisconsin ignition interlock laws to require an interlock to be installed immediately upon conviction, and that interlock will eliminate the possibility that the offender can drive drunk again.

It’s a step in the right direction for Wisconsin, but an even better step would be requiring all offenders, including first time offenders with a BAC of .08 or higher, to drive with an interlock. Wisconsin needs to take a look at passing sweeping new interlock laws to include all offenders, because that’s the best way to clear the roads of drunk drivers.

Big Changes Could Come To Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws

Wisconsin drunk driving laws The holiday season is about to kick off and with it comes big news in the world of Wisconsin drunk driving. There are four new bills on the table in front of the Wisconsin Senate, and if they pass there’s going to be big changes coming for drunk driving laws.

Here’s a look at what the bills propose and what will change for Wisconsin drunk driving laws if they pass.

First drunk driving offense will be a crime

Wisconsin is the only state that doesn’t criminalize a first operating while impaired (OWI) offense, and that’s long been a bone of contention for anti-drunk driving advocates in the state. If a new bill passes a first time OWI will be finally be criminalized, and that means first offenders are treated more seriously than if they were being stopped for a simple traffic ticket.

Ignition interlocks for more offenders

Although they aren’t contemplating an all offender ignition interlock law – requiring an ignition interlock for first offenders charged with a BAC of .08 or over, Wisconsin lawmakers are considering an upgrade to their current laws. They’d like to bring in an interlock law for any offender charged with a BAC of .15 or higher.

If you kill someone due to drunk driving, you’re looking at a long prison sentence

There’s no walking away from a drunk driving crash when you’ve killed someone, and for that crime in Wisconsin you could be spending more time in prison. At the very minimum you could receive five years in prison for a drunk driving crash causing death.

Repeat offender? You’re looking at more jail time too

It’s hard to believe that people can rack up five and six OWI offenses without realizing that drunk driving is the wrong choice. These offenders may finally get the message if a new bill requiring more jail time passes, or at the very least they’ll have more time to think about their choice. Instead of six months in jail, they could be looking at 18 months behind bars.

These bills have the potential to change Wisconsin drunk driving laws for the better, but more can be done in the state. An all offender ignition interlock law that works to put an interlock on every offender’s vehicle would be a good step for the state.

The device stops first offenders from becoming repeat offenders, and if other states with all offender laws are any indication, once you do that you can drop your drunk driving rates significantly.

No Plea Deal For Offender Charged With His Ninth Wisconsin OWI

Wisconsin OWIWisconsin is still the only state in the entire nation where a first DUI amounts to nothing more than an expensive traffic ticket. Repeat offenders don’t fare as well when it comes to penalties, but a Wisconsin OWI can still mean a lighter sentence than if you’d received a DUI or OWI in another state.

But Wisconsin judges don’t always go along with standard sentencing recommendations for a Wisconsin OWI, and one case in Pierce County shows how a judge can take matters into his own hands.

The offender in this case was a repeat offender on his ninth conviction. He was stopped with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.267 after he almost crashed into a deputy’s vehicle.

Although there was some discussion between two lawyers who created a plea agreement, the judge didn’t believe three years in prison and three years on probation was enough. Because it was his ninth conviction and he pleaded guilty expecting he’d receive the minimum sentence available, the judge didn’t feel as though he understood just how serious his crime was.

Stating that he couldn’t go along with the recommendation from the lawyers, he handed down his own sentence. The judge decided that it would be much more appropriate if he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, five of which he absolutely has to spend behind bars.

While in jail he’ll be able to participate in a substance-abuse program, and when he’s out of jail he’ll lose his driver’s license for three years and be required to drive with an ignition interlock for two years.

This offender actually got off easily. A seventh or eighth Wisconsin OWI calls for a maximum prison sentence of 12 years and fines up to $25,000. The judge could have handed down that sentence, but maybe he’s hoping that this Wisconsin offender will stop drinking and driving without spending over a decade in prison.


This Wisconsin Drunk Driving Offender Was Turned In By His Wife

Wisconsin drunk driving There’s been far too many drunk driving crash stories in which the driver hits something but doesn’t realize he or she struck another person. Many cyclists and pedestrians have died this way. Usually the driver is the one who realizes after the fact what they have done. But in one Wisconsin drunk driving case, it was the driver’s wife who figured out her husband had killed someone.

Ryan Peterson from Salem, Wisconsin was driving home after watching a football game at a relative’s house. He’d had a few to drink, but didn’t think he was too drunk to drive. As he drove home down a dark road he took a minute to plug his phone into the charger when he struck something. Because he said he believed it was a deer, he kept driving until he got home.

He told his wife he struck a deer. She had heard, however, that a person had been being struck and killed on his route home. She chose to turn him into the police, and that’s when he admitted he had been drinking.

The person killed was Jackie Hutcheson. He was cycling on the dark road when Peterson crashed into him. After the collision Peterson said he looked in his rear-view mirror but didn’t see anything, so he kept driving. Police said that there was no evidence of his slowing down or stopping after the impact, and Hutcheson was only found after his mother came looking for him.

Because he was turned in after the fact, a Wisconsin drunk driving charge won’t apply. Instead, he’ll receive a charge of hit-and-run resulting in death as well as homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.

It just goes to show: anything can happen when you drink and drive, so stay sober behind the wheel.


Wisconsin’s OWI Laws Need To Change: Why Haven’t They?

Wisconsin’s OWI LawsIt’s the middle of 2017, and Wisconsin still maintains the distinction of being the only state in the USA that doesn’t criminalize a first drunk driving offense. Lawmakers have been considering toughening up Wisconsin’s OWI laws, but they say they have one major hurdle standing in the way: money.

According to several state senators who are drafting bills to improve Wisconsin’s OWI laws, legislation that would bring the state up to the same level as most state’s drunk driving laws would result in a huge cost to taxpayers.

There are two major OWI bills on the table right now. One would require a minimum prison sentence of five years for any drunk driver who crashes and kills someone, while the other would require any offender with a BAC of 0.15 or higher to drive with an ignition interlock in his or her vehicle.

That interlock bill was approved by the state assembly in May, but it may not pass. It’s just this type of program that lawmakers feel would hit tax payers in the pocket books, and they’ve cited a recent felony OWI bill, resulting in more pressure on the prison system, as evidence that cracking down on drunk drivers in Wisconsin is going to amount to too much money.

But with all the talk of dollars, cents, taxes, these lawmakers are forgetting one important thing: the cost of lives. Drunk driving claims more lives in Wisconsin with each passing day, and those live are worth more than money. As long as Wisconsin is avoiding criminalizing a first offender and cracking down on drunk drivers with ignition interlocks for all offenders, more lives will be lost.

In this case you get what you pay for, and if Wisconsin is the only state in the USA that hasn’t made a first drunk driving offense a crime, the state isn’t paying as much as other states to stop drunk drivers.

Memories Of Childhood Shouldn’t Include A Drunk Driving Charge

drunk driving chargeWhat do you want your kids to remember about their childhood? Family vacations, sporting events, much-loved pets, and a…drunk driving charge? It happens all too often: a parent will make the decision to drink and drive, get caught, and have to explain to his or her children what happened and why they made that irresponsible choice.

It’s not a great childhood memory for any kid, and it’s even worse if what you remember is your parent asking you to help them get out of a potential drunk driving charge by making you blow into their ignition interlock.

An ignition interlock is a mandatory penalty for a repeat offender in Wisconsin, but that interlock didn’t stop a 5-time offender from driving anyway. How did he do it? He asked his teenage son to blow into the ignition interlock to start the car.

The man was originally pulled over for speeding, but when they stopped him they suspected drunk driving. Police asked him to perform field sobriety tests and he failed, so they booked him for OWI (operating while impaired). Police also noted that he had an ignition interlock in the car, and when asked how he started the car, the consensus was that the teenage son blew into it for him.

Having your child along when you receive yet another drunk driving charge isn’t a shining moment in anyone’s parental journey, but it’s even worse because this man asked his child to help him participate in breaking the law by blowing into the ignition interlock.

Ignition interlocks work because they stop drunk drivers, but they can’t stop a driver who’s getting someone else to help them drive drunk. As far as childhood memories go, this one won’t go down in the positive column, so don’t make the same mistake with your own children. If you drink, don’t drive.

Mom Lets Eight Year Old Steer So She Can Drive Drunk

drive drunk with childKids don’t come with a manual, and each parent has to make his or her own decisions and choices on what’s best when raising their children. But there should be one universal rule when you have kids, and that’s never, under any circumstances, ask them help you out so you can drive drunk.

Unfortunately, it happens all too often, and some parents who drive drunk put their children in a situation in which the child is either helping them drive drunk, blowing into their ignition interlock so they can drive drunk.

In a recent case, a drunk driver put a child in her lap and let them steer because she was too drunk to steer herself.

That’s why a Milwaukee mom is facing multiple charges right now. She thought it would be a good idea to put her eight-year-old child in her lap and let him steer the car while they drove. It happened around 2:30 in the afternoon, and they were driving down a Milwaukee freeway when a police officer spotted the car swerving in the lane and failing to turn onto a ramp.

When police approached the car the child jumped into the passenger seat and buckled up. The mother was uncooperative, but eventually came out of the vehicle and failed a field sobriety test. It turns out this wasn’t her first driving under the influence (DUI) charge; she’s had two previous convictions and was driving on a revoked license when she and her child were stopped.

She’s now been charged with driving drunk again, but the worst part of this entire incident is that her eight-year-old was concerned that he too would be charged by the police and would need to go to jail.

Putting your child in a vehicle when you’re not sober could be deadly, but it can become even worse for that child if you ask him or her to drive for you. It’s not something they could forget easily, so let’s hope there aren’t a lot of parents out there who would make the same decision.

MADD Report: Wisconsin Needs Ignition Interlocks

car at nightWisconsin is one of the first states that come to mind when you think of lenient drunk driving laws, and that’s because Wisconsin is the only state in the USA where a first drunk driving offense counts to not much more than a really expensive traffic ticket. Not only does a first time offender only pay high fines and have a minimal driver’s license suspension period, they aren’t required to install an ignition interlock in Wisconsin unless the first offender has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over. 15.

That’s why it’s sort of ironic that a report released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently showed that Wisconsin had more drunk drivers blocked by ignition interlock devices than any other state. It’s not a small number of drivers either: since 2016 there were 37,299 drunk drivers who attempted to start their vehicle while drunk and were stopped by an ignition interlock in Wisconsin.

The other top states with drunk driving offenders stopped by ignition interlocks include California with 35,756 stops and Minnesota with 6,290 drunk drivers stopped.

You can take away two things from MADD’s report on Wisconsin. One, the sheer number of people who are attempting to start the car after drinking shows that all drunk drivers in the state need to be required to use ignition interlocks with an absolute zero amount of alcohol allowed before they can start their vehicle. Right now first offenders with a BAC of .02 or lower can start their vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock, but repeat offenders must adhere to absolute zero policies.
The other take away from MADD’s report on Wisconsin is that the lenient first offender laws can’t be working. If this many offenders with an ignition interlock in Wisconsin are still attempting to start a vehicle after drinking, what are those offenders who only receive a simple driver’s license suspension doing? MADD has shared statistics that show that 50 to 75% of drivers will continue to drive on a suspended license, and that’s what could be happening in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin has always made news because of their easy going first offender laws, but now that the state is making headlines for ignition interlock violations, will that be enough to change their attitudes toward all offenders?

Stalled Ignition Interlock Bills Back In Action In Wisconsin

wisconsin ignition interlockWisconsin is a state well known for its issues with repeat drunk drivers, and it’s even more well known for treating a drunk driving offense as a civil issue and not a criminal issue.

Two lawmakers in the state have decided to change that by bringing back some drunk driving bills that failed before, and they would require stiffer penalties for repeat offenders and stronger ignition interlock laws for all offenders. A few of the changes they’re proposing via three bills are:

Longer jail time for repeat offenders

Wisconsin repeat offenders are going to be spending more time in prison. One of the bills reintroduced in Wisconsin Legislature will require a five or six time repeat drunk driving offender to spend eighteen months in jail. If the bill doesn’t pass and the law stays the same, these offenders will only spend six months in jail.

Tougher ignition interlock laws for all

Right now a first time drunk driving offender in Wisconsin will receive up to $300 in fines and a nine month driver’s license suspension. They may be required to install an ignition interlock when their driver’s license is reinstated, but it’s not mandatory.

If one of the bills is passed it will stop all offenders, including first time offenders, who are arrested with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or greater from driving any vehicle that doesn’t have an ignition interlock installed. This is in response to the fact that a drunk driver may be required to install an ignition interlock in his or her own vehicle, but if they are caught driving another person’s vehicle without an ignition interlock, he or she will only receive a ticket for driving on a suspended license but not for failing to comply with their ignition interlock program.

The lawmaker would also like to see a minimum prison sentence for anyone who is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Right now there is no minimum, but if the bill passes that will change to five years.

Wisconsin just passed a felony drunk driving law, so let’s hope this is the year that lawmakers in the state toughen up state laws even more.

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