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Republican lawmakers want tougher drunk driving laws

(WKOW) — Two state Republicans want to stiffen Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws.

Assemblyman Jim Ott and Senator Alberta Darling are circulating several proposals, including one that would make a first DUI a crime. Right now, you’ll get a ticket for a first offense.

Ott and Darling want to make the offense a misdemeanor with up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.

There’s already some pushback from both sides.

Republican Senator Van Wanggaard, who has supported stricter drunk driving laws, says the proposal is too harsh.

“I mean that’s just going to destroy their life having a criminal offense of their record for a first time offense,” Wanggaard said. “So for me, that’s a non-starter.”

Democratic Senator Chris Larson says criminalizing a first offense could clog the court system. He’s proposing a different route.

“I think the first and every drunk driver in the state of Wisconsin who’s convicted has an ignition interlock device on their vehicle,” Larson said.

Governor-elect Tony Evers has indicated support for criminalizing the first offense.


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