A candidate for Wisconsin attorney general has admitted to having a drunk driving conviction. Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, the only Republican in the race, admitted to the 1990 OWI, and in a statement said he took responsibility.
“I made a terrible error of judgment as a young person, and it’s a mistake that I deeply regret,” Schimel said. “I pleaded guilty and took responsibility for my actions, and I continue to work each day to help others learn from my experience.”
Schimel’s OWI came to light just after he said he is opposed to criminalizing first-offense drunk driving. Wisconsin remains the only state in the nation where first-time OWI is treated as a misdemeanor.
Some first offense drunk driving convictions – where the driver has a low blood alcohol count – are expunged after ten years if the person does not a second OWI. The state Assembly has passed a bill that would end that practice, and one of the Democrats running for attorney general urged Schimel to support the legislation.
“If he were stopped again for drunk driving, it would be a first offense, and I don’t think that’s right,” said state Representative Jon Richards. The Milwaukee lawmaker, and Dane County D.A. Ismael Ozanne are also running to succeed Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.