State Representative Jeff Wood was sentenced to 45 days in jail and fined over $1600 Monday, for the most serious of his three O-W-I arrests over the past 17 months. In a Portage courtroom, Columbia County Circuit Judge Daniel George went along with Wood’s plea deal, in which the legislator pleaded no contest to third-offense drunk driving and possession of drug paraphernalia. A count of marijuana possession was dropped. Wood’s jail term begins immediately, but he does have work release privileges. That means Wood could continue voting with majority Democrats on key issues in the final days of the current session, unless he’s removed Tuesday – which is not likely.
Republicans plan to bring forth Representative Steve Nass’s resolution to expel the Independent from Chippewa Falls. But an Assembly panel has already rejected expulsion on a split vote. Democrats are expected to push for a reprimand or a censure. The 40-year-old Wood told Judge George that he was sorry for putting other motorists in danger, and that he wants to get the case behind him and move on. Wood still faces O-W-I charges for driving under excessive medicines in Monroe and Marathon counties, and has said he’ll fight those charges. As part of his sentence, Wood’s driver’s license is revoked for two years and three months. After that, he’ll have to be sober when driving for two years – breathing into a tube before he can start his vehicle. He must also undergo additional drug treatment.
Wood was elected in 2002 as a Republican, but left the GOP six years later, saying he could no longer agree with some of their major principles. Wood was reelected as an Independent in 2008, when Democrats won a majority in the Assembly. Wood has been caucusing and voting with the Democrats most of the time. He is not seeking reelection this fall, but has said he would fight any effort to be removed from office before then.