POLL: When Should OWI Offenders Receive a Felony Charge?
A nine-time drunk driver is arrested outside Wauwatosa as State Sen. Alberta Darling pushes to make three offenses a felony. Is three the right number?
When prosecutors recently charged a woman for operating a vehicle while intoxicated for the ninth time following an arrest near Wauwatosa, it underscored again the issue of Wisconsin’s drunk driving penalties.
The laws are considered some of the nation’s most lenient. Drunk driving does not become a felony in Wisconsin until the fourth offense, one of only seven states to wait that long, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
More on Patch
- Links to 30 Patch articles on offenders with at least five OWIs
- Local Voices from Paul Doro: Wisconsin Has a Drinking Problem
State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), who represents Menomonee Falls, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside and other communities north and west of Milwaukee, is pushing for tougher laws. Her last attempt, authored last summer, died in the spring legislative session. She sought to make the third offense a felony, while also toughening penalties for first and second offenses, including at least five days of jail time for even the first offense.
The issue is complex, but our poll is simple — when should operating while intoxicated offenders be charged with a felony? Vote in the poll and leave additional thoughts in the comments below.