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POLL: When Should OWI Offenders Receive a Felony Charge?

A nine-time drunk driver is arrested outside Wauwatosa as State Sen. Alberta Darling pushes to make three offenses a felony. Is three the right number?

When prosecutors recently following an arrest near Wauwatosa, it underscored again the issue of Wisconsin’s drunk driving penalties.

The laws are considered some of the nation’s most lenient. Drunk driving does not become a felony in Wisconsin until the fourth offense, one of only seven states to wait that long, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), who represents Menomonee Falls, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside and other communities north and west of Milwaukee, is pushing for tougher laws.  Her last attempt, authored last summer, died in the spring legislative session. She sought to make the third offense a felony, while also toughening penalties for first and second offenses, including at least five days of jail time for even the first offense.

The issue is complex, but our poll is simple — when should operating while intoxicated offenders be charged with a felony? Vote in the poll and leave additional thoughts in the comments below.

jackie September 06, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Anon, Its going to be a tough journey back. But you have to fight for it. Sounds to me like you are giving up because all that has happened. I am dead set against drunk driving regardless of reason and I will tell you why. Like many others, I lost my love one (mother) at the age of 14yrs old. The person ran after he rear ended her causing her to lose control and hit a truck head on. The driver of the truck was also injured. Back then the laws on drunk driving wasn't as severe, the people got little time. My point? When you drive drunk, you affecting everyone involved. If you kill someone because of whatever reason, Do you really think the family of the person you killed is going to care?. They are going to ask, then why drive if you have health issues?. Drinking is a responsibility, if you have the conscience to drink then assume the responsibility. Get a room nearby and walk there. Get a desiginated driver. Drink at home. Drink responsible. I know there are people out there who has a drinking problem. But after the 2nd DUI, you would think people will learn their lesson. 1st Dui is a mistake ( everyone is entitled). 2nd is plain stupid. Anything after that is a problem drinker, Or someone who doesnt care.
Anonymous September 06, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Thank you. This is all I am saying. No one actually got hurt in the accident. I served my sentence. I've been through counseling. I've paid my fines. I don't drink anymore. I don't own a car anymore. Isn't that enough? I have an adrenal disorder & suffer from major depression. Because I'm labeled a felon and gave my newborn baby up for adoption last year to a local family that could care for her right before serving my sentence (I chose NOT to have an abortion,) I cannot get Section 8 housing or Badger Care. So now I need to choose between being homeless or a legal prostitute. My point is, I did my time and paid my dues. DO I REALLY DESERVE TO HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN BEEING HOMELESS OR A LEGAL PROSTITUTE WHILE WAITING 3 OR 4 YEARS TO GET SS DISABILITY BECAUSE I HAVE A DUI FELONY?
Randy1949 September 06, 2012 at 02:56 PM
What is a 'legal prostitute'?
Kathy September 06, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Highly unlikely you will get SSDI for depression and adrenal disorder. In another area you stated PTSD...which is it? Nothing is physically preventing you from working, the adrenal is treatable. The SSDI lawyer will tell you otherwise, he gets 20%. SSDI benefits are approved based on 2 mental and one physical or 2 physical and one mental that prevents work for 12 months plus or will end in death. I got my SSDI with no lawyer, and I've tried to go back to work twice. Referring to yourself as a legal prostitute says to me you are living with a man and having sex in exchange for shelter. Does he know this? I so, this is enough to qualify for womans shelter, call advocates. Honestly I think you should try and work, feeling productive might see you gaining a better view of yourself VS playing the victim. "No one actually got hurt" as to your drinking citiations. I thought one time you said car damage and person paid off - thats emotional stress, or are you only allowed that?
Patti S.J. Mackenzie February 01, 2013 at 01:21 AM
Thing that I think is very bizarre is that there are top officials in this state that magically have their hard copy documents disappear before the data even hits the CCAP or what is now known as 'Wisconsin Circuit Courts Access' website. I know this for a FACT! It's NOT a fair system considering there are those that do go out for a cocktail reach out for assistance from the drinking establishment for a safe ride to their destination and find themselves set up or left with a choice of walking in the freezing cold or dying in their cars from exposure. 'If' this state chooses to display 'all' cases on their legal website then there should definitely be some repercussions for the people or establishments that over pour their patrons and allow them to walk out the door!!!! The establishment should be held legally liable and pay money for having also contributed to a crime and should go to jail too. It's far to easy for establishments with the ability to serve the liquor to coheres a patron into a next drink, and a next despite the fact that the patron does not have the 'mens rae' or mind set or criminal mind or intention to drink and drive and truly believes that he/she can put his/her trust in the establishment for a safe ride to his/her destination only to be booted out into the cold because the establishment 'plays a mind game' and decides to close early and tells them that they must leave the establishment, out into the sub zero weather with no where to go.

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