Yes, I know the Wisconsin State Legislature got ‘tough’ this last session on drinking and driving in the state. (This is where the laugh track plays.) In a bizarre strangle hold on the state legislature the Wisconsin Tavern League continually makes sure that Wisconsin is the only state where a first-time drunken driving offense is not a real crime. Slap the wrist of the first-time offender who drinks and drives, and all is supposed to be just fine.
It is not all fine.
Once again Madison news needs to report that a person with a long-time drinking and driving record hit the roads again. This time he also injured people. One of them is fighting for their life.
A Madison man involved in a motorcycle crash this weekend that seriously injured the passenger could be facing his fifth OWI offense, authorities said.
The Crash happened at 10 p.m. on Sunday at the intersection of County Highway M and Waterbend Drive on Madison’s West Side.
Both the driver and his passenger were injured when they were thrown from the motorcycle.
The passenger was taken to the hospital by fire rescue with life-threatening injuries.
The news should be sobering to all. It should be, but I know it will not be. We live in a culture where it is expected come Monday morning that a story of this kind will be broadcast. Wisconsinites love their beer, and too many think it is a God-given right to tank it up, and then reach for the keys to get to the next bar, or wherever they plan to sleep it off.
There are too many multiple offenders of drinking and driving on the roads. It is not fair. It is not right. It is not moral. What it is, however, is further evidence that the legislative process needs to be allowed to express itself freely over the need for real laws with teeth on the books in this state. If there were laws that were tough on the first offense there would be fewer fifth offenses such as the one in the news today. People are in favor of not allowing drunken drivers on the road, and when caught for the first time to face a meaningful legal remedy.
The first time a person drinks and drives should be the time that a clear message is sent that can not be missed or tossed aside. A penalty that means something needs to be applied. Every other state is smart enough to know that is the responsible way to proceed. Why is Wisconsin different? Are we smarter? Are our first offenders more willing to stop and consider that drinking and driving is really a most dreadful decision? Or does the Wisconsin Tavern League run the show in Madison that prevents real reform in our drinking and driving laws?
When as a society do we say we are fed up with drinking and driving?