State legislator hopes to make OWI consequences stricter in 2017

Local News

Wisconsin’s new OWI laws are now in effect, but representative André Jacque of De Pere says he wants to propose more legislation to enforce the current punishments.

Rep. Jacque says that drunk driving offenders who are convicted of OWIs do not always install the court-ordered breathalyzers, called interlock devices, on their cars, and there is not enough follow-up to make sure that they do.

“What we found is that almost half of them aren’t being installed, and there are really no strong punishments for individuals who basically choose to drive without an ignition interlock device,” Rep. Jacque said.

He said drunk driving offenders are finding too many loopholes in the laws.

When asked about the new law that now makes a driver’s fourth offense a felony, regardless of how many years have passed since their third offense, Jacque said Wisconsin is still too lenient.

“We do tend to not deal quite as seriously with drunk driving here in Wisconsin as other states do,” he said.

The Brown County Tavern League refused an on-camera interview, but the tavern’s chapter president, Sue Robinson, sent Local 5 this statement about the new law.

“Brown County Tavern League & The Tavern League of Wisconsin always support legislation that strengthens penalties for repeat offenders with high BAC levels. We will however, always fight proposals to lower BAC levels & anything else that targets social drinking.”

Rep. Jacque said he will continue to push for stricter laws.

“Regardless of whether or not the Tavern League supports my legislation or not, obviously I’m going to continue forward with legislation that is going to hopefully address what really is just a tremendous public safety risk here in Wisconsin, which is drunk driving,” he said.

Also new this year, drunk driving offenders with five or more OWI convictions can expect to face maximum penalties of five or more years in prison.

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