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New bills to be introduced in Wisconsin regarding repeat DUIs

The idea that a person may only make a given mistake once is fairly idealistic. In truth, humans tend to make the same mistakes again and again; not necessarily because they are stubborn or foolish, but simply because it may take more than one misstep to learn a lesson. Unfortunately, some mistakes are more costly than others. And in the case of DUI repeat offenders, Wisconsin lawmakers have lost what little patience they still retained.

A recent investigation by local media indicates that hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents have at least a single DUI infraction on their records. Of this mass of people, a significant portion are also repeat offenders. In fact, over 5,000 Wisconsin residents have four offenses or more on their records. In an effort to address this problem, various rehabilitation and diversion programs are popping up all over the state.

However, many repeat offenders who either do not have access to these beneficial programs or are not recommended for them may simply face increasingly harsh punishments if two new bills are passed in the next legislative session.

Assembly Bill 208 and Assembly Bill 207 aim to increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders in a variety of ways. In particular, they would increase incarceration sentence lengths and fine amounts for second-time offenders as well as first-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or greater. The legislation would also increase felony penalties for offenders on their third or greater offense.

The debate on how to address the hazard of repeat DUI offenses will continue in the next legislative session. But the idea that rehabilitation may be more beneficial (to offenders in particular and society as a whole) than retribution seems to be tabled for now.

Source: Channel 3000, "Justice system struggles to curb Wisconsin's repeat drunken drivers," Nov. 15, 2012

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