MADISON, WI – Drunk driving is a serious problem in America with more deaths than recreational smoking. Many eventually get caught in the slippery slope of dipping and sipping but a staggering number of people continue to embibe and drive. For some a DUI is enough to stick on the straight and narrow but for others, the call of the demon is too strong to ignore. In comes the final deterrent employed by government to discourage inebriated operation of a vehicle.
Wisconsin’s governor, Scott Walker, signed a tough-on-suds bill into law Wednesday, March 28, permanently revoking a person’s license if they have been convicted of four or more drunk driving-related offenses. Initial reports do not indicate when the actual bill will go into effect but those who fall under the description will be stripped of their driving privileges… permanently. If they are caught driving after having their license permanently revoked, they will face a fine of $2,500 and up to one year in jail.
The bill states that someone with four or more of these offenses will have their license taken from them on a permanent basis. The fourth (or more) conviction must happen within the last 15 years of the previous conviction leaving habitual corner sippers on an extremely long but tight leash.
Senator Van Waggard (R-Racine), a co-author of the bill, said in a statement:
This morning, Governor Walker signed SB 135 into law, which permanently revokes the driver’s licenses of individuals convicted of 4 or more drunk driving-related offenses. The bill was drafted by Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield) to combat the problem of repeat drunk drivers.
“In just the last couple of weeks we’ve seen several 4-time drunk drivers in our area. It’s ridiculous and it’s got to stop,” said Wanggaard. “Thanks to 4-strikes-and-you’re-out, these offenders will either learn the lesson or lose their license forever. And if they drive while revoked, they will face up to an additional year in jail.”
Under the new law, if an individual is convicted of 4 or more drunk-driving related offenses, the Department of Transportation must permanently revoke that individual’s driver’s license. A drunk driving-related offense includes Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), homicide by OWI, homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, and any felony crime under the motor vehicle code and others. The fourth offense must occur within 15 years of the previous conviction.
“I know we need to do more to curb scourge the problem of drunk driving in Wisconsin,” Wanggaard added. “This is a meaningful step in the drunk driving fight. We need to get repeat drunk drivers off the road – permanently.”
The bill is not retroactive, although an individual who has been previously convicted of 3 OWI-Related offenses will have their license revoked after their next conviction. Offenders who drive after revocation would face a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail for the first offense. Second offenses could lead to a $10,000 fine and/or a year in jail.”
Will this do the trick to curb the insatiable desire to wine and drive? Will more states adopt this procedure as it takes hold in Wisconsin? Only time will tell.