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Law enforcement, families plead for tougher drunken driving laws

Posted: 8:14 PM, Sep 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-04 23:52:51-04

MADISON — Tears and tough testimony flowed out of a state Senate committee hearing Wednesday on OWI laws.

Families, lawmakers, law enforcement and even a victim herself testified on why the Wisconsin Legislature should pass laws for tougher consequences for impaired driving, including Brian Dunleavy, whose son Conner was killed seven years ago at the age of 20.

“Maybe if we had stricter laws, Conner wouldn’t have died,” he said.

But the impact goes beyond the families.

It affects law enforcement, who are often the first to arrive on the scene.

“I’m tired of standing above cars that are a mangled wreck,” said Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt. “It is not easy to stand over these cars. It makes it even harder when families show up and notify them they’ve lost loved ones because they had a choice.”

Among the legislation discussed Wednesday is a proposal to criminalize first-offense OWI, and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for killing someone while driving drunk.

Another proposal would close a loophole that allows drivers to get multiple first OWIs while on vehicles such as a boat, ATV or snowmobile.

“I’m tired of standing above cars that are a mangled wreck. It is not easy to stand over these cars. It makes it even harder when families show up and notify them they’ve lost loved ones because they had a choice.” — Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt

All 11 bills in the legislative package are expected to be voted on by the committee later this month.

To contact your lawmaker, click here.

To read up on the bills, click here.

For the complete Wisconsin DOT data, click here.