drunken driving

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Wisconsin’s drinking culture sometimes leads to tragedies on the road - when impaired drivers get behind the wheel.

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Four members of a group studying ways to reduce drunken driving in the state resigned Thursday, saying bar and tavern owners have an undue influence on the committee.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation formed the committee.  Among those resigning include an emergency room doctor and two members of non-profit organizations.

The task force members said in a letter Thursday, that those working on the plan have little interest in a diversity of opinion on the issue. 

The Wisconsin Assembly approved three bills Tuesday to toughen the state's penalties for driving under the influence.

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The state Assembly is scheduled to vote Tuesday on three bills that crack down on drunken driving. 

One measure would bring Wisconsin in line with other states -- by criminalizing the first offense.  Currently, Wisconsin gives traffic tickets to first time drunken drivers and orders them to pay a fine.

Supporters say the change is long overdue -- Wisconsin is the only state that does not make the first offense a crime.

Opponents say they're concerned about additional costs the state may incur, if it sends more people through the criminal justice system. 

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A legislative committee has approved a half dozen measures that would impose tougher sanctions on drunken drivers.

One of the bills would make the first offense a crime, if a driver's blood alcohol content is .15 or above. Currently, first offenders are issued municipal tickets.

Another measure would make the third offense a felony.

The panel also approved bills imposing mandatory sentences for drunken drivers who injure or kill someone and allowing authorities to seize offenders' vehicles.

Patrick Coffey was arrested last Thursday night after attending Irish Fest.

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A couple legislators continue hammering away at drunken driving in Wisconsin.

They’ve introduced six bills aimed at toughening penalties.

Hearing This Week on New Drunk Driving Laws

Aug 12, 2013

A state Assembly committee will take public testimony Thursday on a new legislation that would toughen the state's drunk driving laws.

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Two GOP lawmakers say the state’s OWI statutes are weaker than those in the rest of the nation.

Two Republican legislators say Wisconsin's drunken driving laws have been lax, for too long, particularly when it comes to repeat offenders.

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