Gretchen Schuldt

Drunk Driving Bill Costs $15 Million Per Year

Department of Corrections estimates minimum cost of get-tough bill.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Apr 5th, 2017 09:41 am
Car keys and drinks. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Car keys and drinks. Photo is in the Public Domain.

It would cost state taxpayers about $15.3 million per year to impose mandatory minimum 18-month prison sentences on drunk drivers convicted of their fifth or sixth offense, as State Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) have proposed, according to the State Department of Corrections.

Longer prison terms would result in even higher costs, the DOC said. The estimate also does not include any remodeling or construction costs associated with expanded alcohol and other drug abuse programming.

Evan Goyke

Evan Goyke

Ott and Darling are the lead sponsors of a bill that would mandate the 18-month minimum sentence for multiple repeat drunk drivers. The new cost estimate, dated Friday, largely vindicates State Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), who pushed for it during a public hearing on the measure last month.

Fiscal estimates of legislation’s potential impact are routinely provided by agencies to legislators so they understand the tax and budget consequences of their votes. The Department of Administration is responsible for determining what agencies should provide the estimates.

Goyke produced his own estimate for the public hearing that showed the bill could cost the state $20 million  per year, but that number was greeted with skepticism by some on the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and and Public Safety, who suggested it was too high.

Goyke, who could not immediately be reached for comment, suggested the DOC estimate was omitted because the Walker administration did not want to make the costs of the measure public.

In its new estimate, DOC said the state’s prison population would rise by about 478 at the end of the first year after the bill is passed and, once the full impact hits, the population would increase by 710 inmates.

Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) main sponsors of the bill.

By far the largest chunk of costs – $13.3 million per year – would come from contracts with local jails throughout the state for bed space for the additional 710 inmates. The state prison system already is at capacity and, as of March 17, was contracting with local jails for 206 beds for prison inmates.

An additional $2 million would be needed to establish new AODA treatment programs in state prisons. The programs would require hiring 24 treatment specialists and 1.6 corrections supervisors, DOC said. The department also would need $117,000 in start-up costs for the programs.

The Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday.

Besides Ott and Darling, sponsors of the mandatory minimum bill are Representatives John Jagler (R-Watertown), Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee), Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake), Jesse Kremer (R-Kewaskum), Bob Gannon (R-West Bend), Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago), Keith Ripp (R-Lodi), Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), Todd Novak R-Dodgeville), Andre Jacque (R-DePere), Ron Tusler (R-Harrison), Scott Allen (R-Waukesha), David Murphy (R-Greenville), Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), Daniel Knodl (R-Germantown), Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc), Jeffrey Mursau (R-Crivitz), Edward  Brooks (R-Reedsburg), Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Robert Brooks (R-Saukville); and Senators Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Dave Craig (r-Town of Vernon).

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

Categories: Politics, Public Safety

5 thoughts on “Drunk Driving Bill Costs $15 Million Per Year”

  1. Lynne says:

    How much does it cost the state/people in deaths, injuries, long-term disabilities per year when drunk drivers kill, maim, injure others, or even themselves???

    How much is “life” worth?

  2. Mark N says:

    Sensible ‘Non vindictive interlock devices’ would probably help Very noticeably. Once a convicted drunk driver has had 1 of the current devices on their car they want them off ASP!, even if they would have one on their car on their own. These devices would never sell in the private market the way they are currently designed! To sell them currently they need to be court ordered.

    NON vindictive = non monitored buy the government [including the courts and police], insurance agencies or anyone period! User friendly! NO high monthly monitoring fees! That detects alcohol and not cigarette smoke, hydrocarbon fuel, carbon monoxide, tooth paste ETC! And is discreet [operate off of a wristwatch/skin type sensor]. I am sure Tim Cook[Apple] and his company could rather easily design one!

    Could also be an insurance incentive to have an interlock on a car.

    I think some/many parents would/might have them installed on their cars so their kids can’t drink & drive if they let them use their car.

    I suspect many people who have had a second or more drunk driving offense my never completely abstain from drinking. If you have even 1 or 2 drinks you may be vulnerable to driving drunk sometime in the future. Alcohol can easily make your ability to think straight disappear! A person may get by for many years and still many years later drive drunk again. I think the police and courts know/suspect or realize that and don’t care. After all it keeps them employed.

    I think trying to get someone to completely quit drinking 100% is like trying to change a liberal to a conservative, or a conservative to a liberal, a gay person to a straight person or a straight person to become gay, or a Christian to become a Muslim or a Muslim to become a Christian. While once in a while people will change, they frequently don’t.

    It took decades to get airbags in cars. I remember hearing about airbags in some GM cars back in the 1970s. Unfortunately vehicle interlocks while most likely be the same way!

    Mark N

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    Wisconsin is the only state that does not criminalize first-time drinking and driving offenses, as offenders are typically given a fine and released after they sober up. The Badger State also boasts the nation’s highest level of binge drinking.

    Those incidents related to excessive alcohol cost an estimated $6.8 billion each year. That’s $1,200 for every man, woman and child in the state, reports CBS New travel editor Peter Greenberg.

  4. WashCoRepub says:

    Get this done in bipartisan fashion, and get these people off the road.

  5. Caligula says:

    The private prison industry (which funds Walker’s and other Republican campaigns) receives “lock up quotas” from state Legislatures usually mandating 90%-100% occupancy. They will not be happy with any sort of alcohol or drug reform as it will impact their bottom line. Policing for profit and for profit prisons require more laws as well as continued criminalization of any and everything.

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