Law enforcement has long since struggled with the increasing number of alcohol-related accidents across the state of Wisconsin. And for years now, families who have lost loved ones because of drunk-driving accidents and advocate groups such as MADD are constantly calling for change in a state that has seen too many die at the hands of OWIs.

Now, in a recent effort to help prevent further travesties, lawmakers have introduced six new bills into the legislature aimed at strengthening the penalties that drunk drivers face in the state.

A majority of the bills will change how first and second-time offenders are punished after being convicted of an OWI. Charges for first-time offenders whose blood alcohol level is that of .15 or higher could face a criminal misdemeanor, according to one new bill. This will also be the penalty for anyone arrested for their second OWI offense as well.

Two other bills could establish mandatory minimum sentences to all offenders as well. Under current Wisconsin law, there are only maximum sentences that can be given in drunk-driving convictions; but with the help of these new minimum sentences, drunk drivers may finally see that their negligent actions can have severe consequences.

Although these new bills could greatly decrease the number of drunk drivers on the road, as many victims of drunk-driving accidents will tell you, all it takes is that one time and your life is changed forever. It’s situations like these that need to be addressed by lawmakers; if not for the victims themselves, but for the surviving family and friends who must endure a lifetime of grief because of one fatal mistake.

Source: WXOW News, “Changes proposed to strengthen Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws,” Mar. 3, 2013