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Lawmakers should close loophole in Wisconsin drunk driving laws

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Drunk driving remains a serious problem in Wisconsin. While the number of people caught driving drunk in the state is on the decline, alcohol remains the single biggest contributing factors to fatal crashes. Lawmakers have taken some steps to get tougher on drunk driving, but Wisconsin remains the only state in the nation where a first offense OWI does not constitute a criminal offense. Instead, it is the equivalent of a traffic ticket. Some who compile multiple drunk driving offenses in Wisconsin are ordered to install an ignition interlock device on their car to prevent them from driving drunk. But it turns out some of these people have discovered a loophole in the law. Drivers have found a way to get around the law and not install court-ordered ignition interlock devices. Because the law says their car must have the device installed, these clever lawbreakers are transferring the title of the car into someone else’s name, typically a family member. So technically, they are not breaking the law because the law says their car has to have the device, but legally it is no longer their car. Some smarter lawmakers in Madison are working to close this loophole. They are pushing legislation that would make the order to install the device apply to the driver, not their car. That way, no matter what car they are driving, if it doesn’t have an ignition interlock device, they would be violating state law. Our lawmakers should approve this change, and take this one small step to make our roads a bit safer.

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