Starting today, drunk drivers caught by police in Wisconsin will face tougher penalties.
A number of law changes take effect July first that will increase jail time and fines for those convicted of an OWI, along with making the fourth offense a felony. The new laws make a first OWI arrest a criminal charge if a passenger in the car is under the age of 16. They will also require ignition interlock devices for first time offenders with a BAC above .15.
Frank Harris with Mothers Against Drunk Driving says it’s the most critical set of reforms for the state in several decades and they are an important step in ending the state subsidy of drunk driving.
Harris says the changes in state law are a good start, but MADD plans to continue a push for ignition interlock devices for all drunk driving convictions. He says that’s needed to show driving at anything above .08 is no longer acceptable. MADD also calls for legalizing sobriety checkpoints and criminalizing first offense drunk driving.