Residents weigh in on potential drunk driving prevention policy for first time offenders

Senator Chris Larson asking for stricter drunk driving prevention policy. He is urging lawmakers for mandatory Ignition Interlock Devices for all drunk driving offenses.
Posted at 9:26 AM, Feb 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-16 10:26:34-05

MILWAUKEE — According to the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation, someone is injured or killed in an impaired driving crash every two hours in Wisconsin.

This statistic is concerning to Senator Chris Larson. That's why he is working on another drunk driving prevention policy.

If passed, this new legislation would require anybody in the state of Wisconsin who's convicted of Operating While Intoxicated to have Ignition Interlock Devices.

That would stop a lot of drunk drivers from driving and a lot of innocent people from being hurt,” Milwaukee resident Regan Hayes explained.

Hayes is all for requiring ignition interlock devices for everyone convicted of a drunk driving offense. The bill is authored by state senator Chris Larson.

"Anybody convicted of a drunk driving offense, OWI in the state of Wisconsin for a period of one year would have a barrier between them and operating a vehicle while impaired,” Senator Larson explained.

Current law only requires these devices for drivers who have an alcohol concentration of point .15% or higher and repeat offenders.

"We have among the worst drunk driving laws in the country. What that means is one in three people who are convicted of drunk driving offense go on to commit another drunk driving offense,” Senator Larson explained.

Hayes along with another Wisconsin resident said they would feel safer on the roads if this law was put in place.

"If they had breathalyzers in their vehicle after getting stopped for a DUI whatever it is. I feel like they would be skeptical for how they get in their car. They wouldn't get in their car and drive,” Hayes said.

Senator Larson said this law has been adopted in many other states.

"If other states are having success and they saw their numbers dropping after those law have been passed then yeah why aren't we doing it to protect the people,” Port Washington resident, Jim Lindner explained.

Reporter Megan Lee asked Lindner if he thinks it's too harsh of a punishment for first time offenders.

Lindner said, "if it's for one year, lesson learned. We don't just want to give them a slap on the wrist because it hasn't really been working if we're still one of the highest states with the drunk driving issue we have right now."

Senator Larson hopes to have a hearing on the measure and passage before the end of session next month.