Drunk drivers in Wisconsin will face tougher penalties, under legislation Governor Doyle is expected to sign into law later today. The Governor is scheduled to sign legislation this morning at a Capitol ceremony that would make 4th offense OWI a felony, along with other increased penalties and expanded treatment options.
State Representative Tony Staskunas (D-West Allis), a sponsor of the measure, thinks it will help make Wisconsin’s roads safer and help to reduce the number of injuries and deaths each year from drunk driving.
The bill passed with overwhelming support in the Legislature, despite concerns about increasing court fines to pay for it. Staskunas admits that is a concern, but it is one they prepared for. He says a review by the state factored in a percentage of those fees not being paid when determining how much the increase would bring in each year.
Still, the West Allis Democrat says financial constraints certainly had an impact on the final bill. Staskunas says it would have been nice not to have a five year limit on making a 4th OWI offense a felony. However, he says that could still be changed after the budget problems are resolved.
Staskunas also remains hopeful that the bill will help lead to more reforms in the future.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:03)