Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker said on Wednesday he is opposed to some proposals to crack down on impaired driving in Wisconsin, including instituting sobriety checkpoints and criminalizing first-offense drunken driving:
Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker said he opposes key elements of legislation under development that would crack down on drunken driving across the state, although his chamber would give them consideration.
The Weston Democrat said in an interview Wednesday that making a third drunken driving offense a felony would be “too severe,” while allowing sobriety checkpoints is undemocratic.
Wisconsin has a terrible record when it comes to how our society deals with drunk driving, and Sen. Decker is no stranger to drunk driving himself, as he’s one of a number of state lawmakers who have been arrested for drunk driving within the past five years. Of all people, Sen. Decker should understand just how dangerous drunk driving is, and he should understand that Wisconsin ought to start taking what most people would agree is dangerous behavior seriously.
On third offense drunken driving, Sen. Decker said, “You could get one at 20 (years old), one at forty, and one at 60. That spans 40 years. Does that make you a felon? No.” While I do see Sen. Decker’s point, I’d argue using the same example as Sen. Decker that the individual who got an OWI at 20 years old, another at 40, and a third at 60 years old has demonstrated a clear pattern of behavior in regards to drunk driving, and I’d also wonder how many times that individual drove drunk without being caught between each offense.
I’m of the belief that Wisconsin needs to start getting tough when it comes to drunk driving, and making a third offense, regardless of any time period, a felony will go a long way towards sending a strong message that drunk driving will not be tolerated in Wisconsin.