OWI Laws Under Review

PHOTO: Midwest Communications
PHOTO: Midwest Communications

GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Some state lawmakers are pushing for tougher driving while intoxicated laws.

While the topic is not a new one, one representative has other ideas to discourage people who are drunk, or on drugs, from getting behind the wheel.

For years, State Representative Jim Ott (R- Mequon) has pushed stricter punishments for driving under the influence.

“There’s just too much of this going on, and so I would like to see us do everything we can to make our roads safer.”

Ott tells FOX 11 he's working with other lawmakers on bills to crack down on drunk drivers.

“One of my Senate partners is going to be introducing a bill that would require an ignition interlock for all offenders, you know, which would include first offenders who are under .15 BAC, and I will probably take the lead on that."

Current law also allows somebody to sign an alleged drunk driver out of jail, as long as they promise to get that person home safely.

Ott wants to modify that law, based on a case from Kenosha County last August.

“The case in Kenosha County, the mother came and signed for the son and, supposedly, had responsibility for him and took him home, and then he snuck out and got the car keys and drove again and smashed into a woman on the way home from work, and she was seriously injured and is still suffering from her injuries.”

Ott says his plan would prevent a case like that from happening again.

“There’s no more anybody signing out for them because that’s ridiculous...so we’re just going to say, ‘No more signing out for people, you’ve gotta be sober when you leave that jail.”

Ott isn’t the only one who’s pushing for changes in OWI laws.

FOX 11 spoke to the Mother’s Against Drunk Driving earlier this month.

Representatives from the organization said they were also working on other OWI reform measures.

“This upcoming session will probably be the most active on OWI reform, at least in some time," said Frank Harris with MADD.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is also working with lawmakers to allow first time OWI offenders a chance to clear their record.

Drivers would have to have an ignition lock breathalyzer installed in their vehicle.

The OWI charge would be erased after six months of sober driving.