New 2017 OWI Laws in Wisconsin
By Andrew Mishlove on December 30, 2016
WISCONSIN CONTINUES ITS CRACKDOWN ON DRUNKEN DRIVING NEW, HARSHER PENALTIES TAKE EFFECT ON JANUARY 1, 2017!It’s well known that Wisconsin has a terrible problem with drunken driving. We have a rate of drunken driving arrests that is just about double the national average, and has been so for decades. Year after year, tougher laws are passed, that have little effect. I have written before that we should have a simple dram-shop law, making it civil negligence (meaning they could be sued for damages that result) for a tavern to over-serve a customer (something almost all other states have). That would do more than all of the “get-tough” policies. More money should be spent on alcohol treatment, rather than jails.
Drunken driving will decrease in the near future, and the politicians will take the credit; but the credit is not because of long jail sentences. Drunken driving is decreasing quickly nationwide for one reason: ride-sharing apps like Uber.
Here is a summary of the new laws:
- First, the definition of "injury" has been expanded, so that almost anyone in an accident with a drunken driver may claim an "injury," even if they were not really hurt.
- All fourth offense charges will be felonies with a maximum prison term of six years, with a maximum period of initial confinement of three years, and a minimum of sixty days. This previously only applied to fourth offenses within five years of the third offense.
- All fifth and sixth offense charges will have an increased maximum prison term of ten years, with a maximum period of initial confinement of five years, with a minimum of six months.
- All seventh, eighth, and nine offenses will have an increased maximum prison term of twelve and one-half years, with a maximum period of initial confinement of seven and one-half years, with a minimum of three years.
- All tenth and subsequent offenses will have an increased maximum prison term of fifteen years, with a maximum period of initial confinement of ten years, with a minimum of four years.
- Finally, earlier in the year the legislature authorized judges to issue warrants for forced blood draws in first offense, civil traffic OWI cases.
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