MILWAUKEE — As 2020 comes to a close, it has been a bad year for people driving impaired. It is why the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office will have more eyes on the streets. An effort a Jefferson County mom applauds after her son was killed by a drunk driver.
“I think it was the fifth Christmas without him. A new year starting that he doesn't get to live,” said Marla Hall about her son.
Hall lost her son Clenton on November 2, 2016. The 26 year-old was driving back to Milwaukee from La Crosse a work trip when a wrong way driver killed him, his girlfriend and a coworker. Police say the man was legally drunk and speeding. The suspect has not been able to stand trial after being deemed mentally unfit because of the injuries he got during the crash.
“They get a slap on the wrist, seeing that our laws are just pathetic in this state,” said Hall.
It’s why Marla has made it her mission to toughen drunk driving laws and TMJ4 Project Drive Sober has been with her every step of the way.
In 2019, a Wisconsin law passed requiring a minimum five year sentence if you kill someone while driving drunk.
February of 2020, a mandatory minimum 18 months behind bars for 5th and 6th OWI offenders.
“It's not an accident as people like to say it is, it's a choice. It's a choice to get in the car and drive drunk,” said Hall.
Other laws in the works thought stalled this year because of the pandemic. But the reality is impaired driving is on the rise.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says despite less vehicles on the roads this year because of the pandemic. The people who were driving tended to engage in risky behavior leading to more traffic deaths. The NHTSA found about 65-percent of crash victims had alcohol, opioids or THC in their bodies during the pandemic. Before the coronavirus outbreak started that number was 50-percent.
It’s why the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office says they will have extra officers on the roads on New Year’s Eve cracking down.
“We are going to have extra patrols,. We are going to have individuals on voluntary overtime. We going have the Southeast OWI task force that we partner with they are going to squads out there. State Patrol, other jurisdictions within the county, they are going to be active,” said Captain Charles Stowers, Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.