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Wisconsin lawmakers to vote on tougher reckless driving penalties



FILE - Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson overturned county-owned SUV, after a crash stemming from his driving drunk at high speeds on Interstate 94 on Dec. 8, 2021 near Alexandria. (PHOTO: Douglas County)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Penalties for reckless driving would dramatically increase under a pair of Republican-backed bills that Wisconsin lawmakers are set to vote on Wednesday.

The bills’ chief authors, Rep. Bob Donovan and Sen. Duey Stroebel, said they introduced the legislation in response to what they say are rising incidents of reckless driving in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Police Association, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin all support the bills. No groups have registered against the legislation.

Donovan said in written remarks submitted to the Assembly public safety committee that the Milwaukee Police Department issued 497 citations for reckless driving in 2022, up 32% from 2021.

The Senate and the Assembly were both expected to vote on the bills Wednesday afternoon. Approval would send the legislation to Gov. Tony Evers.

The first bill would double fines and forfeiture ranges for reckless driving and subsequent offenses. The maximum forfeiture for a first offense would increase to $400. The maximum fine for a subsequent offense would increase to $1,000.

The maximum fine for reckless driving that causes bodily harm would increase to $4,000. Causing great bodily harm by driving recklessly would be punishable by up to six years in prison. The current maximum sentence is three-and-a-half years.

The second bill would allow police to impound a repeat reckless driver’s vehicle.

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