Ignition interlock legislation in Wisconsin

Local News
Police_ Drunk driving continues to be a problem in Wisconsin_1132680595513360684

A state lawmaker from De Pere wants to make it harder for those convicted of OWI to offend again. Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) plans to close loopholes with ignition interlock devices in a bill he’ll take to Madison in the coming months.

This is an ignition interlock device, court mandated for all the vehicles of repeat drunk drivers or first time offenders convicted of having a blood alcohol content of over 0.15. It can tell in seconds if the person breathing into it has been drinking and if so, the device prevents the vehicle from starting.

“Our device won’t let you start the vehicle if you blow a .02 or higher,” said Josh Mathiowetz of Wisconsin Ignition Interlock Devices of Green Bay.

When installed properly on a offender’s vehicle it keeps drivers from again driving drunk. But Representative André Jacque says many convicted of OWI simply aren’t having the device installed.

“The problem is people simply aren’t following through on court orders to have one installed or they are switching the vehicle out of their name,” said Jacque. “To a spouse’s name, a child’s name, friend or other family members.”

Jacque believes many ignore the law because the fines for driving someone else’s car, or a car titled in someone else’s name, carry no criminal penalty.

“Unfortunately the penalty right now is a traffic ticket and it’s not taken seriously,” said Jacque.

But Jacque is looking to change that this legislative session. By tying ignition interlock systems directly to a person’s drivers license instead of their vehicle title and by significantly upping the penalties.  

“It’s going to be a $500 to $1,200 fine and there is the possibly of jail time if you’re trying to evade this court ordered ignition interlock,” said the representative.

Jacque says increasing the penalties will increase compliance and that is something desperately needed in Wisconsin.

“We have to look into the mirror as a state and see we have the highest rate of drunk driving the nation,” Jacque said.

A similar bill passed out of committee last legislative session but never came up for a vote.

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