New 2017 OWI Laws in Wisconsin
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.