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As I See It

Only in Wisconsin can you drive drunk four times and still not have committed a crime

Scott Robert Shaw

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It is no secret that Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws are the most lax in the nation. We remain the only state in the nation where a first-offense OWI is not considered a crime. Not even a misdemeanor. It is the equivalent of a traffic ticket. Wisconsin’s drunks can rack up four drunk driving convictions before it even qualifies as a felony. Now we are learning of an absurd loophole in Wisconsin law which would allow a driver to be arrested four times for drunk driving, and that person still would not have committed a crime. That is because Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws classify drinking and driving in a car differently from being drunk while driving a boat, an ATV or a snowmobile. So technically, in Wisconsin, a person could get arrested for driving drunk in a car, a boat, an ATV and a snowmobile all in one night and still not be a repeat offender. All four citations would be considered a first-offense, and under Wisconsin law, that does not constitute a crime. One Wisconsin lawmaker is hoping to introduce legislation to classify all OWI charges the same, regardless of what vehicle is being driven. That makes sense. But as we have seen, what seems common sense doesn’t always line up with the law.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Parker Knautz

    June 10, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Stop being a baby and let us drink!

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