Wisconsin has no ‘will’ to crack down on first-time drunk drivers

Wisconsin is the only state that doesn’t treat first-time drunk driving as a crime and that apparently is the way it’s going to stay, the La Crosse Tribune says today.

Lawmakers have given up on toughening the sanctions for drunk driving.

We’re the only state in the country that doesn’t have a stiffer penalty for first offense — it’s treated like a parking ticket,” Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, tells the paper. “But we aren’t going to be able to change that. There isn’t the will.”

“We’ve been told most people want to focus on repeated drunken drivers so that’s where we have settled,” she said.

“We’re finding the first-time offenders aren’t the big re-offenders if you look at where it is, it’s second and above.”

A lobbyist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving says the tavern industry is too powerful to get first-time DUI laws through the Assembly. The group favors ignition interlock device requirements for first-time drunk drivers.

The legislators still have hope for a bill requiring a minimum five-year prison sentence for anyone who kills someone while driving drunk, the paper says.