Bill "Levels the Playing Field" to Prosecute OWI Offenses

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

Some lawmakers say a legal loophole makes repeat drunk driving cases tougher to prosecute. Supporters of new legislation hope to plug that loophole, and say doing so will make Wisconsin's roads safer.

"If you're on your third, you've got a problem, "Assemblyman Mark Gundrum told judiciary committee members.

Some state lawmakers want to address that problem of repeat drunk drivers.

"Repeat drunk drivers are more dangerous to the community, and we need to prosecute them as effectively as we can the first and second," Dennis Krueger, Assist. District Attorney for Walworth County, says. But Krueger says a loophole makes prosecuting repeat offenders more difficult.

Krueger says, "The way it stands now if you're a first or second offender and you have a prohibited alcohol concentration, the test results are practically automatically admissible."

He says that is not for the case for three or more OWI offenses.

"You don't have that same admissibility so it requires the prosecutor to bring in expert testimony, cost more money and make it more difficult for them to prove their case," Krueger says.

Krueger says new legislation levels the playing field.

"All people who are operating under influence are going to be treated the same and it makes the prosecutions' job more effective," he says.

Supporters say this bill is a simple fix to what was probably an oversight when the state lowered its blood alcohol limit.

Gundrum says, "We've got to clean up what was just, I think, improperly drafted a couple of years ago."

In 2003, lawmakers lowered the legal limit for blood alcohol to .08. The judiciary committee is expected to vote on this bill early next week.

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