November 28, 2015

Wisconsin lawmaker wants ignition interlock devices for first time OWI offenders

Ignition interlock device (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Ignition interlock device (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Anyone convicted of first offense drunken driving in Wisconsin would have to prove they are sober every time they go to start their vehicle, under a bill being proposed at the Capitol.

The legislation from Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) would require anyone convicted of a first offense OWI charge to have an ignition interlock devices installed in their car. The devices keep a vehicle from starting unless the driver blows into a tube to prove there is no alcohol in their system.

Wisconsin is the only state that does not criminalize first offense drunken driving – a change many advocates have been pushing to make for years. Larson argues his approach may be a better solution though in trying to change the culture of drinking in Wisconsin because of the stigma the devices can carry. “You are going to have to blow into a tube before you start your vehicle, and your family and friends are going to have to see that,” he says.

The Milwaukee Democrat thinks that might make people change their behavior before ever getting behind the wheel after drinking again.

How long the device would be in place and who pays for it would be up to the courts.

Hunter killed in Waushara County by stray bullet

A 56-year-old Wild Rose man is dead, after authorities say he was hit by a stray bullet while hunting on his property in Mount Morris.

Waushara County Sheriff Jeff Nett says 56-year-old Gregory Welk was hit by a bullet Monday afternoon. He was able to call 911 and his wife, but died later in the evening after being flown by helicopter to a Neenah hospital.

Nett says they believe the bullet came from a gun fired on public hunting land, located across the street from the Welk property.

Investigators are looking for the owner of a dark-colored pickup truck, from the late 1990s or early 2000s, which was seen parked nearby around the time of the shooting. There were two people seen driving away from the scene in the vehicle.

Contributed by Rick Schuh, WHBY

Average Wisconsin gas prices fall below two dollar mark

(Photo: Andrew Beckett)

(Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Wisconsin drivers are benefitting from a massive drop in gas prices over the last month.

Pump prices in the state are down almost 25 cents in the past week, with the statewide average falling below the $2 mark Tuesday for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel. Overall, the state is down almost 35 cents in the past month, which is the third largest drop in the nation.

Nick Jarmusz with AAA-Wisconsin says an ample supply and low-demand are the main reasons for the decline, with all Midwestern refineries finished with seasonal maintenance and producing at or near capacity.

There’s no sign of them heading back up anytime soon either. Jarmusz says Thanksgiving travelers will be enjoying a break throughout the Midwest, with the lowest gas prices for the time period since 2008.

McFarland police officer dies in traffic crash

Ryan Copeland

Ryan Copeland

Authorities have identified a police officer killed in a traffic crash Monday as 33-year-old Ryan Copeland of the McFarland Police Department.

Copeland was killed when his squad car collided head on with an oncoming vehicle in the town of Albion, in southern Dane County. The Dane County Sheriff’s Department said the crash occurred when a Department of Natural Resources vehicle, driven by a 25-year-old woman, crossed the center line. The woman was taken to a Janesville hospital with minor injuries.

Copeland was the McFarland Police Department’s K-9 officer. He had been on the force since 2013. Prior to that, he spent a decade in the Army.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Wisconsin deer harvest off to strong start



The opening weekend of Wisconsin’s nine-day gun deer hunting season was much stronger than last year. The Department of Natural Resources says 119,495 deer were taken during the first two days of the season, which opened on Saturday, a 15.5 percent increase from 2014.

The statewide buck harvest was also up 13 percent, while the antlerless total increased by close to 20 percent.

The state is using a new online and phone system this year for hunters to register their deer. The DNR has also posted a county-by-county breakdown of harvest numbers from the opening weekend.