It may or may not be public knowledge that Wisconsin has some of the most lenient drunk driving laws in the nation. Legislators are now trying to change that reputation by proposing three different bills that would toughen the penalties for driving under the influence. The hope is that tougher laws will cut down on the number of drunk drivers on the road–especially those drunk drivers who end up injuring or even killing people when they get behind the wheel.

First, under the current law, the third and fourth drunk driving offenses are misdemeanors. The new law would make these offenses felonies which would make the penalties for these offenses harsher. Second, when a drunk driver injuries someone in an accident, they may be sentenced to a minimum of 30 days in jail. Under the proposed law, that minimum sentence would be raised to six months in jail.

Last, but certainly not least, the third law that has been proposed would require a minimum 10 years in prison for a drunk driver that ends up killing someone in an accident. Wisconsin law currently provides no minimum sentence in these cases. The measures will go before the Assembly either this fall or sometime next year.

Hopefully, these measures will pass. Far too many families in Wisconsin have lost loved ones or been injured by people who get behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking. These new penalties may either serve as a deterrent or will make sure that habitual drunk drivers spend some significant time behind bars. The dangers of driving under the influence are well known and often the subject of civil actions brought about they an accident caused by a drunk driver. Anyone who has been the victim of a drunk driver may benefit from knowing what his or her rights are in this regard.

Source:, 3 Drunken Driving Bills Up for Hearing in Wisconsin,” Aug. 1, 2013