NewsProject: Drive Safer


Milwaukee police data shows significant spike in reckless driving citations over past 3 months

“It’s just this push of enough’s enough,” said police union president Andy Wagner. “Reckless driving has just come to a brink in Milwaukee. We’ve had too many deaths.”
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Posted at 5:36 PM, Jan 11, 2023

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) data shows a significant spike in the number of reckless driving citations being issued recently.

In each of the past three months, Milwaukee police records show officers have given at least 55 reckless driving citations. TMJ4 found that’s more than any other month in at least the past five years.
The Milwaukee Police Association says officers are cracking down on the issue.

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"It’s just this push of enough’s enough,” said police union president Andy Wagner. “Reckless driving has just come to a brink in Milwaukee. We’ve had too many deaths.”

Milwaukee police believe enforcement is a key component of curbing reckless driving behavior. That’s why Wagner says the department is making a major push to cite more reckless drivers with the reckless driving citation itself.

“I think what you guys have been doing bringing attention to reckless driving and what the community is seeing out there with these reckless cars everywhere, they’re making complaints to the police department and I think the police department is listening,” Wagner said.

Wisconsin’s reckless driving law states, “no person may endanger the safety of a person or property by the negligent operation of a vehicle.”

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Wagner says that means drivers who are caught weaving through traffic, egregiously speeding, or illegally passing on the right are often receiving a reckless driving citation because it’s up to the officers’ discretion.

"It holds a steeper penalty than just say a speeding violation,” Wagner said. "It gives the officers a little more room to be able to tow cars."

“What message should that send to those who are driving recklessly on the streets every day?” TMJ4’s Ben Jordan asked.

“I think the message it sends is we are going to take this seriously,” Wagner replied.

In Milwaukee, it comes with a $313 fine and six demerit points on your driving record. Two of those citations in a year would result in having your driving privileges suspended.

"It took my best friend's life in September of 2021 and I commend the police department and I tell them to do more,” said Alderman Mark Chambers Jr.

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Alderman Chambers believes increased enforcement leads to accountability.

"If you decide to drive recklessly and you drive at a high rate of speed, we're coming for you and you're going to pay,” he said.

Bob Olin is the owner of a coffee shop in Sherman Park. He’s also on the neighborhood’s reckless driving task force. While he supports police citing more reckless drivers, he isn’t so sure it will serve as a deterrent.

"The likelihood of it being paid or that driver having a driver's license is pretty remote,” he said. "We can't enforce our way out of this, but hopefully more people are realizing how widespread the issue is."

Milwaukee police data shows the department issued just shy of 496 reckless driving citations in 2022. That’s a 32 percent increase from the year before.

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