7th offense OWI merits slap on the wrist?

Here’s yet more proof of why Wisconsin’s long overdue for tougher drunk driving laws:

A Manitowoc man who pleaded guilty to a charge of seventh-offense driving while intoxicated has been sentenced to three years in prison.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed three other charges against 41-year-old Keith D. Delsman. He was sentenced Friday.

A police report says a deputy gave chase in May after observing that Delsman’s motorcycle was speeding. It says the chase reached speeds of 80 mph.

Prosecutors say Delsman evaded officers after driving through a construction site too narrow for police vehicles. Authorities caught up to him later.

Police say he told them he fled because he “had nothing to lose.”

What galls me is that the prosecutor in Keith Delsman’s case felt Delsman deserved a deal, despite the fact that Delsman led police on a high-speed chase while intoxicated, a situation that could have been much more tragic, especially given Delsman’s “nothing to lose” attitude. Keith Delsman should have gotten more than a three-year slap on the wrist, especially given his record of disregarding public safety by driving drunk.


Related Articles

9 thoughts on “7th offense OWI merits slap on the wrist?

  1. If they caught up with him later, there’s a chance that his blood alcohol level had dropped below .08% by the time he was tested (that’s the reason why drunks often flee the scene — the penalties for fleeing are lower than the penalties for repeat OWI). If there was insufficient evidence to make the OWI stick, the prosecutor had a strong incentive to offer a plea deal.

  2. According to the story, the plea agreement was to drop the other charges not for a reduction in the sentence. A plea agreement is also a recommendation, the judge can sentence as he sees fit….. This guy should have been sentenced to the 10 years he deserved for the DUI.

  3. I’m a huge supporter of harsh penalties for multiple offenders – and yet, I’m thinking 3 year in prison for a 7th offense is actually not that bad. We’ve seen people with considerably more OWI than that who still haven’t gotten prison time.

    I have no problem with leniency on first offense. Do it again, you get 1 year in jail – work release possible. Third offense, 3 years in prison – not jail, but real lock-up prison. Misdemeanor – felony – felony.

    But unfortunately, the statutes are only half the problem. The other half is judges who are willing to let repeat offenders off with a slap on the wrists. I know mandatory minimums & truth in sentencing laws can be problematic, but when an elected legislature passes laws and judges choose to ignore them, what else can you do? As much as drunk driving is an important issue for me (thankfully not for personal reasons and I hope it stays that way), I’ve not been a big fan of MADD. That said, I’d think bringing to light judges who give repeat offenders a walk would be right up their alley. I honestly can’t believe we haven’t seen suits against judges who free guys who subsequently murder someone. If it happened to a member of my family, I’d go after the judge that freed him as well as the guy himself. And by go after, I mean legally – not as a vigilante.

  4. I’ll admit that I tend to believe people can change their lives after engaging in criminal behavior and being held accountable, but at the same time, someone who’s a seven-time drunk driver has clearly demonstrated he’s not interested in changing his behaviors. That’s why I believe a slap on the wrist isn’t appropriate in this case.

    1. You say that like it’s a bad think – like you’re ashamed to admit people can change & get their lives together. I don’t believe that should be the case at all.

      I’m just guessing at the number here, but I’m betting that 95% of the people who will get a clue and make the changes necessary to not drive drunk again – will do so after getting caught the first time. If getting arrested, spending a night in jail, being convicted and publicly embarrassed doesn’t do it, gradually stepping up the fines for subsequent offenses won’t either. So the issue is, if after first offense, a person decides to continue to do it, you know they will in all likelihood, continue doing it over & over again until something drastic happens. A. they kill themselves. B. they kill someone else. Or C. they sit in prison long enough that they finally realize getting behind the wheel drunk is not worth A. B. or C.

      Our penal system serves two purposes – to punish people for breaking society’s laws and to protect the public from these people. (Rehabilitation is a laudable but less crucial goal and a conversation for another day). One of the problems with drunk driving is the pervasive attitude among the public and judges, to be more concerned with not being “too harsh” on the punishment, while forgetting the protect society part. Too many drunk drivers are on a path to injure/maim/kill it’s only a matter of time and opportunity. Every day they are sitting in a cell is one more day their victims are safe.

      The most important facet underlying this issue – that just doesn’t get mentioned enough – is that driving drunk is a 100% willful decision people make. Alcoholism is a disease & some people are just wired to be addicted to it (something I do no all too well from personal experience). But that gets conflated into the drunk driving issue when it’s not the same thing. People seem to think that the decision to drive drunk is made while people are already drunk & thus by definition not thinking clearly. The truth is, the decision is made with a clear mind before the first glass is poured. When you go out to a bar, you make the decision then. You’re either going to drive home drunk or you make other plans.

      1. Locke, I don’t say it like it’s a bad thing; I say it like it’s an unpopular thing. In many circles, it’s far more “politically correct” to talk about locking “thugs” (as so many refer to those convicted of crimes) up, but offering any type of treatment or counseling programs to hopefully correct the behavior is seen as being “soft” on crime.

  5. I’m Scott Delsman, this article is NOT about me, its about KEITH DELSMAN. whoever wrote this needs to fix it.

  6. Even Though U Havent Been The Best Dad In The Whole World I Wouldnt Trade You For A Thing I Love You To The Moon And Back xoxoxo

Comments are closed.