MADISON, WI — Drunk drivers in Wisconsin could see stiffer penalties for getting behind the wheel after two Republican lawmakers announced that six new drunken-driving laws are advancing to the State Senate for consideration.

The bills pertain to a wide range of issues, including increasing penalties for repeat offenders, as well as first-time offenders, and lengthening the time prosecutors have when pursuing different kinds of cases.

The committee is made up of Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

“I do think it will cause some people to change their behavior and make the decision ‘I don’t want to be in that situation,’ and not get behind the wheel,” Ott said in a statement.

Here is a breakdown of each bill currently under consideration by state lawmakers:

Senate Bill 6 increases the mandatory minimum sentence for fifth or sixth drunken driving convictions to 18 months in prison. Under current law, a person who commits a fifth or sixth drunken driving offense must be fined at least $600 and imprisoned for at least six months.

Senate Bill 7 / Assembly Bill 15 make first-time drunk driving offenders appear in court. Current law allows local governments to draft ordinances in-line with state traffic laws that punish most first drunken-driving offenses as a civil violation.

Senate Bill 8 / Assembly Bill 17 creates a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for committing homicide while driving drunk. If a judge believes that sentence is too harsh, they must put their reasons in writing.

Senate Bill 345 extends the amount of time prosecutors have to pursue drunken driving cases. Under current law, with exceptions, a prosecution for a misdemeanor must start within three years of the crime. This bill extends the prosecution time limit to six years. Similarly, this bill extends the time limit for drunken-driving ordinance violations from two to three years.

“While we are making progress on curbing drunk driving in our state, I hope these bills will help deter everyone from getting behind a wheel after drinking,” Darling said. “For too long, we’ve looked the other way and protected drunk drivers from their crimes. These bills will change that attitude.”

The bills now head to the full State Senate for further consideration.

What do you think of these bills?


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