Wisconsin Moves to Make First DUI a Crime

Wisconsin state legislators are attempting to strengthen drunken driving penalties by making a first DUI arrest a criminal act. Currently such a DUI arrest is an ordinance violation, making Wisconsin the only state in the country where a first DUI is not a crime.

The legislation will also permit law enforcement agencies to set-up sobriety checkpoints, which are currently deployed in 39 states.

Vehicular accidents involving alcohol are responsible for hundreds of deaths in the state. Proponents of the bill say it will "give law enforcement officers the tools they need to combat that."

Opponents think the focus should be on repeat DUI offenders, and they find the sobriety checkpoints a presumption of guilt and a misuse of police resources.

Drinking and driving is a serious issue though somewhat of a lifestyle for citizens of the state. The roadways feature many roadside taverns and the Wisconsin Tavern League is a powerful lobby organization that influences state politics.

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