Rep. Richards Moves to Criminalize First Drunken Driving Offenses
Rep. Jon Richards unveiled legislation to criminalize first-offense drunken driving.
Madison—Today, Rep. Jon Richards unveiled legislation to criminalize first-offense drunken driving, a move that would finally align Wisconsin’s statute with the laws in every other state.
Richards’ bill is one of many proposals the Milwaukee Democrat has introduced or supported this session to improve public safety through tougher operating while intoxicated laws and expanded treatment options.
First-offense drunken driving is considered a crime in every state except Wisconsin, where the penalty is equivalent to a traffic citation.
“First offenders are no less dangerous than repeat offenders,” said Richards. “In fact, a majority of drunken driving injuries and deaths involve drivers who had no previous convictions. Making first offense a crime is one of many laws we should pass this session if we truly want to get serious about drunken driving in Wisconsin.”
Richards’ bill would make first-offense OWI a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $300 and up to 5 days in jail, and provide additional funding to cover the costs associated with the new law.
Richards recently introduced AB 738 to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunken drivers, a top legislative priority for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In addition, he has co-authored or supported a number of other bipartisan bills to strengthen the state’s drunken driving laws and expand treatment options for non-violent offenders with drug and alcohol problems.
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