Monday, January 12, 2009

OWI 'Compromise' Still Coddles Offenders

There's something pathetic about legislators twisting themselves into knots trying to sorta criminalize a first-time OWI offense, but not really, which still gives too much leeway to a person arrested for driving drunk.

These legislators are trying to look innovative and bold.


No other state gives a civil ticket/wrist slap to a first-time offender, and that's because the other states know that first-time offenders are not first-time drunk drivers: they are first-time caught drunk drivers.

I have known many people with alcohol problems, and one thing they have in common is that they drove under the influence often - - A lot.

Too many Wisconsin legislators, in the grip of political denial and special interests, too, want us to believe that they are legislating with the interest of that mythical poor first-time/only-time/one-time offender who was merely unlucky and "made a mistake."

And for whom a ticket is all the deterrent they will ever need.

If this person exists at all, he or she is a rarity.

To make matters worse, the proposed compromise says that if a first-time offender re-offends, the ticket converts to a misdemeanor and the second offense is another misdemeanor.

Some reform: For the repeat offender, that ticket didn't do the trick, and that second offense - - a misdemeanor - - is the way a second offense is treated now.

Wisconsin needs to get into the real world of drunk driving enforcement.

Here is one legislator who seems to understand.

His sister was killed by a drunk driver. For his colleagues, shouldn't that be enough?


Anonymous said...

Yes it should be enough. But after a couple of beers, even an elected person seems to forget all reason.
Its long oversue to criminalize drunk driving. Unfortunately, its the best time waster in a drone state in dead winter. Whose going to start the ball rolling and the arguments flowing on the floor?

Anonymous said...

Well it should be clear and easy to see why theres compromise and a lack of criminalization with OWI's. The majority of our state representatives arrive from smaller towns and villages where there chief fundraising and vote accumulation is based on consuming beer. There simply is no other way to explain how some of the reps in Madison got there.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to get angry and puff up about punishing evildoers, but we are not going to punish our way out of this problem. Drunk drivers do not have evil intent, they simply do not realize or do not care that they are impaired by alcohol. Attitudes must change, and the chances of getting caught must greatly increase. Since addressing that second point is going to have a cost in both money and lost liberty (are you willing to pay it?) it seems to me the best action is to work on attitudes. Public Service Announcements featuring victim impact statements or the statements of offenders (think restorative justice here) must be at least part of the solution.

James Rowen said...

to Anon: I do not use the term evildoers to describe drunk drivers. I agree that they are careless, or unaware, but yes, I am willing to pay to separate repeat offenders from society.

I agree that attitude must change, and I support education about alcohol use and abuse in the schools.

So many PSA campaigns have failed that I am not sure if they are effective. I'm for community service if it is real and well-supervised.