MOUNT PLEASANT — A serious three-vehicle crash in Mount Pleasant Sunday is bringing a spotlight back on the issue of people drinking and driving in Wisconsin after two drivers were charged with their first OWI offense. And the other driver, charged with their third offense.
"We have too many people who are repeat offenders causing serious accidents and these people have serious alcohol problems. The most important thing is that we have to prevent repeat offenders because that's our greatest problem," said Wisconsin State Senator, Alberta Darling (R-District 8).
Senator Alberta Darling says for nearly eight years she's been working in the Senate to address the drunk driving issue in the state, and the lenient penalties drivers face.
"One thing we are out of line with the rest of the states is our penalties for a first-time offense. Right now it's more like a driving ticket," said Darling.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's website, more than 27,000 people were arrested in 2019 for driving while intoxicated, and out of the alcohol-related car crashes, 140 people were killed.
"People have to realize there is a cost to this drunken driving," said Darling.
Over the years Darling says she and other lawmakers have been able to get legislation passed to OWI penalties, but she says providing treatment to offenders is also critical to keep them from doing it again.
"We really have to take response responsibility for ourselves and be very serious drivers And not let drunk driving cause more devastation on our highways," said Darling.
Darling adds that she's currently working on legislation that will require drivers who've been charged with their first OWI to go to court so that they can acknowledge the seriousness of the first-time offense.