A key legislator says "political will" is lacking on some efforts to get tough with drunk driving in Wisconsin. State lawmakers are expected to crack down on drunk drivers this session, but some proposals are not going to make it, according to Assembly Public Safety Committee Chairman Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis).
"Right now I don't see the political will . . . to criminalize OWI one," says Staskunis, refiring to efforts to make first-time OWI a crime rather than a civil penalty. Wisconsin is the only state in the country where that's not a crime, but Staskunis says local governments and district attorneys have said they don't have the resources to criminally prosecute first time drunk drivers.
Staskunis also sees little chance for legislative approval of sobriety checkpoints, something Governor Jim Doyle has requested. "Law enforcement can do very effective things right now with saturation patrols," says Staskunis. "They know where the drunk drivers are driving, and they also know the times they drive and the days they drive. Milwaukee County I know has done some very effective things with saturation patrols, and so frankly I'm not even sold on the need for sobriety checkpoints."
Staskunas does expect legislators will pass a tougher law on repeat OWI offenders.