Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do We Really Want Lax OWI Law, But Faster Speed Limits, Too?

That's what could happen if Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos doesn't see the inconsistencies of his positions and Scott Walker stays on the sidelines.

At Purple Wisconsin:

To explain his support for raising state speed limits to 70 mph, Wisconsin Assembly GOP Speaker Robin Vos brought to the Racine Journal Times the 'everyone else is doing it' defense:

Vos said he supported the move because it would bring Wisconsin in line with its neighboring Midwestern states.

When it comes to that highway policy, Wisconsin shouldn't stand apart, he said in The Journal Sentinel:

"Wisconsin will soon be the only state in the Midwest still at 65. Given the actions by other states, DOT officials were wise to begin researching this issue," Vos said in a statement.

Well, using that standard, I'd expect to see Vos leading the effort to have Wisconsin join the rest of the Midwest - - and every other state in the Union - - and make a first drunk driving offense a misdemeanor instead of the Wisconsin-only first-offense ticket.

But Vos has yet to get behind modest efforts in the Legislature to tweak state OWI statutes and treat some first offenses as misdemeanors if offenders' blood alcohol content measured 0.15 or higher, or about twice the current legal BAC limit of 0.08. Offenders blowing 0.14 and below - - still just a ticket:

The continued challenges facing the effort were clear Monday, with Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) endorsing the principle of a crackdown on intoxicated driving but stopping short of backing the specific measures.\


Vos is described as "non-commital" in a long AP report earlier this month about efforts by his own party in both houses of the GOP-led Legislature to win approval for a package of OWI reforms, including the 0.15 misdemeanor.

So we could end up with higher speeds on state highways to match what's posted in other states - - the uniformity or consistency argument - -  but continue to be the exception on drunk driving and merely ticket (enable) first-time (caught) drunk drivers up to 0.14 who would be charged with a misdemeanor if they were caught over the border blowing 'only' 0.08.

Make sense?

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