Walker signs OWI bill into law

Posted at 3:32 AM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 08:52:03-04

Earlier this year, Wisconsin's Assembly passed a bill that would impose tougher penalties on certain repeat drunk drivers. Today that bill will become law.

After passing the Senate, the measure passed the Assembly 95-1.

The new law makes a fourth offense OWI a felony regardless of when someone is arrested and the charge is filed. Currently, a fourth offense is only a felony if it's committed within five years of a third.

The bill will also change the way prosecutors can charge drunk drivers with injuries.

Under previous law, an OWI-related injury was defined as "bodily injury that causes a laceration that requires stitches, staples, or a tissue adhesive; any fracture of a bone; a broken nose; a burn; a petechia; a temporary loss of consciousness, sight, or hearing; a concussion; or a loss or fracture of a tooth."

Now prosecutors will be able to charge drunk drivers with any injury caused while under the influence..

The law will also increase the maximum prison sentenced for fifth and sixth offenses from three years to five. Maximum sentences for seventh, eighth and ninth offenses would increase from five years to seven and a half. The maximum sentence for a 10th or subsequent offense would rise from seven and a half years to a decade.