Wisconsin Legislature Approves Changes To State's Drunk Driving Laws

Published: 2010-1-12

Article provided by Reddin & Singer, L.L.P.
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Wisconsin recently passed sweeping legislation that will change its reputation when it comes to cracking down on driving under the influence (DUI). While the legislation is not the most stringent in the United States, it will make a considerable difference for drivers in Wisconsin.

Only one assembly member voted against the bill, which passed easily in the Wisconsin legislature. Its critics, including Democratic representative Marlin Schneider, say that the new law will not successfully curb drunk driving; rather, it will just send more people to jail, stressing the already overcrowded jail system.

The new drunk driving law will take effect on July 1, 2010.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) are breathalyzer-like devices that can be installed in automobiles to test the level of alcohol on a driver's breath. IIDs will prevent a driver from starting a car if the device detects alcohol on the driver's breath.

First-time DUI offenders with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent or higher will be required to install IIDs in their automobiles; so will repeat offenders.

Additional Changes to Wisconsin DUI Law

The new bill will also make a fourth DUI offense a felony if the fourth offense occurs within five years of a previous offense. The first DUI offense will continue to be a traffic violation, not a misdemeanor as it is in many other states, unless a child under 16 is in the car.

In addition, the new bill will make available certain alcohol or drug treatment programs to offenders. Offenders who successfully participate in these programs often will receive reduced jail sentences. The legislation also makes probation available as a disposition in certain cases where only jail time was available previously.

In order to pay for the additional costs projected by the legislature for the laws, fees will increase for offenders.

Seek Help

If you have been charged with DUI, contact an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and help you design an appropriate strategy for your defense.

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