Thursday, September 5, 2019

Take away WI motorists' 1st-time-OWI get out of jail free cards

The public turned out in Madison Wednesday to support yet another bill to make first-offense OWI in Wisconsin a misdemeanor.
Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) wrote Senate Bill 9, which would make a first offense OWI a misdemeanor. "We are the only state in the country that has the first offense drunken driving as a parking ticket," said Sen. Darling.
Picture of Senator Alberta DarlingIt's a safe bet that the bill and anything else remotely in the public interest will die in committee, because too many Wisconsin legislators are too beholden to the state's various hospitality and alcohol lobbies, and too fearful of being called a party-pooper.

Related efforts have generally met with failure.

So it was not surprising to see legislators on the evening news default into their predictably phony hand wringing over what it would cost to have convicted offenders to sit for a few days, separated from their car keys, where they could count their blessings and remember them for not having killed themselves or someone else when caught driving drunk.

This is the same 'cost-conscious' Legislature which has just committed a record Wisconsin subsidy to a Taiwan-based TV screen manufacturer to build (perhaps) some products on rural Wisconsin farmland now being made more accessible through a quarter of a billion dollars in new highway spending.

How about dedicating a fraction of that kind of money to making the roads we already have a little safer by taking away the first-offense-OWI-get-out-of-jail-free card that comes attached to every State of Wisconsin driver's license?

Like there's a state birthright to endangering the public safety - - a pass we don't automatically grant to people for their first-time caught recklessly discharging a firearm in, say, a crowded shopping mall.

You don't hear legislators fretting over what a misdemeanor prosecution might do to a reckless firearm handler's future.

Commonsense, deterrent treatment of OWI as a menace to public health, combined with more education and broader access to treatment for abusive drinking, would be the most cost-effective approach of all, because you can't put a price on lives saved down the road.


MAL said...

There is no Due Process for OWI citations. Cited equals guilty.

James, you are part of the mass incarnation-pro-police-anti-black-anti-brown coalition that wants police road-blocks, more surveillance, expansion of the criminal code, police harassment and character assassination.

Any expansion of police power should be run by black and brown folks firstly, the wrongfully convicted, and civil libertarians.

Your faith in the intelligence, motivations and good conduct of the police is absurd, and revealing of a bubble.

James Rowen said...

Your verdict is recorded.