The state Supreme Court has ruled that out-of-state ‘zero tolerance’ violations can count as prior drunk driving offenses in Wisconsin courtrooms. The court’s 5-1 ruling involved the case of Gerard Carter, an Illinois man who’d been charged with fourth offense drunk driving. Prosecutors counted three prior offenses from Illinois. Carter argued that two of those Illinois cases, in which he violated the state’s ‘zero tolerance’ law for younger drivers, should not be counted against him in Wisconsin.
A Wisconsin district court said the cases could be counted. But an appeals court reversed that ruling, leading to the case being taken up by the Supreme Court where the justices ruled against Carter. That despite the fact that similar ‘zero tolerance’ violations – known as ‘absolute sobriety’ in Wisconsin – would NOT count as prior drunk driving offenses under Wisconsin law. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley was the lone dissenter on the case. She argued the Wisconsin legislature did not intend “to count a prior out-of-state youthful zero tolerance violation the same as a prior out-of-state OWI offense for purposes of sentence enhancement.”