Republican Bill Would Criminalize First-Time Drunken Driving

Wisconsin Is Only State Where First-Offense Drunken Driving Is Civil Violation, Not Crime

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Two Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would make first-time drunken driving a crime in Wisconsin.

Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, began circulating the proposal for co-sponsors Thursday. Wisconsin is the only state where first-offense drunken driving is a civil violation and not a crime.

Ott and Darling’s bill would make a first-time offense a misdemeanor punishable by up to $500 in fines and 30 days in jail.

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Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers said Wednesday he wants to criminalize first-offense drunken driving as a deterrent. Evers made the remarks after a suspected drunken driver struck and killed a firefighter who had stopped to help a driver who had lost control of her vehicle during a snowstorm in Madison on New Year’s Eve.

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