Wisconsin Needs Tougher Drunk Driving Laws
This morning national news was made when a United States Senator met the effects of his drunk driving.
Sen. Mike Crapo has pled guilty to a drunken driving charge. His license will be suspended for one year, he will have to complete an alcohol rehabilitation program and will be fined $250. A 180-day jail sentence has been suspended on the condition of good behavior.
Wisconsin might want to consider how others handle the problems of drunk driving since we have so many alcohol related issues, along with the dreaded side effects.
At least 220 people have been killed in alcohol-related crashes in Wisconsin every year between 2002 and 2011. More than 51,000 people have been injured over that span. No matter how you dice the statistics those numbers are just unacceptable.
Wisconsin can start to get tough on drunk drivers in the way that Crapo was dealt with, if we choose to. Not only does the citizenry need to demand changes, but elected officials need to find their political spine and vote for new laws.
There are efforts underway by two Republican legislators to make the penalty for drunk driving more in line with the seriousness of the crime. As such State Representative Jim Ott along with Senator Alberta Darling deserve our thanks for trying again this session to criminalize certain first-time offenses, make a third drunk driving offense a felony, and establish mandatory minimum sentences for drivers who cause crashes. These are not as complete a set of changes as are needed, but would be a major step in the correct direction.
Anywhere else in the nation these proposals would be called common-sense legislation, but in Wisconsin due to the Tavern League these proposals are likely never to see the desk of Governor Walker.
How this lobbying group can strangle sound and wise legislation aimed at making the roads safer from drunk drivers shows the power money has in politics. Too many of the elected offices in Madison care more about not riling up the Tavern League than they do in making the roads safe for the vast majority of their constituents who understand the need for tougher drunk driving laws.