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Tougher laws not only way to beat drunken driving in WI, AG says
The Wisconsin Reporter ^ | 8-27-13 | M. D. Kittle & Ryan Ekvall

Posted on 08/27/2013 8:12:05 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic

MADISON – Drunken drivers are a menace to Wisconsin roadways, and two Republican lawmakers are leading the charge to pass stiffer penalties.

But the state’s top cop opposes a lot of what’s contained in the bills being pushed by state Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, questioning the cost and effectiveness of the legislation.

“(It’s) not that I believe OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) isn’t a huge problem, not that I don’t believe that we need to do something about it, but because I know we have limited dollars and I want to use them in the most effective and efficient way possible,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen told reporters at a Treatment Alternatives and Diversion symposium in Madison on Friday.

LOADED QUESTION: Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen questions the costs and efficacy of bills stiffening penalties for drunken driving. (Video at source)

The six proposed bills targeting drunken driving are projected to cost state taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in increased prison time, litigation and court bills. On one proposal alone the state Department of Corrections estimates an increased cost of $226 million in prison bed days and another $236 million for construction of new facilities.

“When you have unproven get-tougher-on-drunk-drivers legislation that costs a lot of money, it may not be the best way to reduce drunk driving or better protect the public if you can use that money in other categories. The reality is a lot of those dollars can be better spent on programs such as (OWI courts),” he said.

Ott has voiced skepticism about the fiscal estimate, calling it a “grave overestimate of the costs.” And the lawmakers, joining a chorus of supporters, say stricter penalties will save lives, something that fiscal estimates can’t adequately put a price on.

In the state budget, lawmakers passed $1 million in TAD funding grants for counties to use as they see fit – whether it’s an OWI court, a veteran’s court, drug court or other diversion program.

OWI courts are a type of treatment alternative and diversion program that have proven effective in counties that use them. The programs target repeat offenders who have alcohol abuse problems. According to the Department of Transportation, there are 9,670 third and fourth OWI convictions a year in the Badger State.

Participants in OWI courts still see jail time, but substantially less than what the law otherwise calls for. Participants undergo treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy, appear regularly before a judge and are tested for alcohol consumption throughout the program.

Tough on crime

In 2009, former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed a law providing tougher penalties for people convicted of OWI. That law made the fourth offense a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Ott has proposed to make a third offense a felony.

In 2009, former state Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, was the lone dissenter in the statehouse, saying the bill would exacerbate crowding in jails, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“You may think this will be some wonderful thing, some wonderful bill that will solve the drinking problem,” Schneider told the newspaper. “This bill isn’t going to solve the problem.”

Alcohol-related crashes and deaths are down since the bill passed, but it continues a downward trend that started in 2007 – around the same time OWI courts started to appear. Going back further, alcohol-related crashes are down from nearly 14,000 a year in 1989 to roughly 9,000 in 2003 to 5,200 in 2011.

After La Crosse County implemented its OWI Treatment Court in 2006, repeat OWI convictions dropped 24 percent over the next three years – a substantial difference from similar-sized counties without treatment courts.

According to a 2009 assessment of the court’s first three years, the OWI Court saved La Crosse County 13,257 jail days. At $72 a day, the court saved taxpayers $954,504 dollars in jail days, according to the assessment.

Walworth County’s OWI court marks its two-year anniversary in October. According to Katie Behl, the OWI Court coordinator, nine people have graduated from the program and 40 are now enrolled.

“It has been very successful. It is working,” she said. “We’re following evidence-based practices that show time and time again these programs are effective. Typically the number we’re seeing is for every $1 spent in drug courts, it’s $3.36 savings in other areas compared to the traditional route.”

That includes savings from reduced jail bed days, health-care costs, foster care placements and reduced recidivism rates. Behl said those are estimates. She said a forthcoming evaluation of the program will provide harder numbers. The biggest impact, she says, is in the intangibles.

“Not only are (participants) getting help with substance abuse, they’re changing the way they approach their lives. Their lives are more stable, they’re seeking employment, repairing relationships. It’s kind of changing their entire lives,” she said.

Video at source.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: albertadarling; jbvanhollen; jimott

1 posted on 08/27/2013 8:12:05 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic; Hunton Peck; Diana in Wisconsin; P from Sheb; Shady; DonkeyBonker; ...

Again, JB does a fine imitation of an idiot!

FReep Mail me if you want on, or off, this Wisconsin interest ping list.

2 posted on 08/27/2013 8:15:24 AM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Those guardrail impalements are getting to be fairly common now, especially for small cars.


3 posted on 08/27/2013 8:21:27 AM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

My preference? FIRST conviction (not just arrest; conviction) is a Felony and you become Bubba’s/Jethreen’s ‘Prison Wife.’

But, that’s just me. :)

Glad to see the stats showing less DD arrests, though.

In reality, in this economy, under this administration, who can AFFORD to be out drinking? I mean, when you’re working two jobs to keep your head above water, ain’t nobody got time fo’ Dat! ;)


4 posted on 08/27/2013 8:30:10 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

A boon to car insurance companies who can charge windfall rates after a conviction.


5 posted on 08/27/2013 8:32:19 AM PDT by DManA
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

Prison rape is a national scandal.


6 posted on 08/27/2013 8:33:02 AM PDT by DManA
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To: afraidfortherepublic

The true problem are the folks driving with a .015 BAL or higher. They could give a rats butt whether the legal limit is .008 or .001.


7 posted on 08/27/2013 8:33:09 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: SampleMan

Want to cut down on Drunk Driving? Find out where all the political fundraisers are and throw a net over the place around 10:00.


8 posted on 08/27/2013 8:36:46 AM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
My preference? FIRST conviction (not just arrest; conviction) is a Felony and you become Bubba’s/Jethreen’s ‘Prison Wife.’

Just for getting pulled over while driving with a alcohol blood level above some arbitrary number?

Become a felon, lose everything, go to prison and get raped?

Didn't have an accident, didn't harm anyone.. just had a few beers?

Wow. The Taliban would LOVE you.

9 posted on 08/27/2013 8:38:09 AM PDT by humblegunner
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To: editor-surveyor

A bit of a side note: We used to have guard rails that had each end curved and bent down into the shoulder. Those had to be removed because vehicles that swerved off the road rode right up the slope of the guard rail and then flipped.


10 posted on 08/27/2013 8:40:21 AM PDT by knittnmom (Save the earth! It's the only planet with chocolate!)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

Here’s a question for you. Imagine that you had to leave this planet and make a home on a new one. There are two choices. Both worlds are identical to this world in every way except for the following difference:

In world “A”, every driver on the road has a Blood alcohol level of 0.15. In world “B”, every driver is texting all the time they are driving.

Which world would you consider the safest to drive in?

I would like to see DUI enforced just like speeding. Going ten over gets you a ticket. Going 20 over gets you a stiffer fine. Going 150 in a 35 will land you in jail.

We don’t need to get tough on “drinking” drivers. We need to get tough on “drunk” drivers. I’m safer with a BAL of .12 than the average middle aged asian woman driver in Seattle with no alcohol in her system, but they are driving legally while I would see my life turned upside down if I ever actually did that and got caught.


11 posted on 08/27/2013 8:41:08 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: humblegunner

I live in a dry county and go to a baptist church. When the subject of keeping us dry (they are all for it) comes up I say, “I thought you were baptist. I did not know you were Mormon. Or is it Muslim?”

That gets the conversation going. Nobody who KNOWS the bible can use it to justify laws against adults drinking. And anyone who knows the bible can easily use it to demonstrate that.


12 posted on 08/27/2013 8:45:21 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: cuban leaf

I always amazed the there are a lot of Freepers want more laws and more government control as long as it meets their agenda and not the lefts.


13 posted on 08/27/2013 8:46:06 AM PDT by riverrunner
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To: riverrunner

I always amazed the there are a lot of Freepers want more laws and more government control as long as it meets their agenda and not the lefts.


Last week I rented a three DVD PBS documentary on Prohibition. It was fascinating. It addresses just why it happened.


14 posted on 08/27/2013 8:47:44 AM PDT by cuban leaf (Were doomed! Details at eleven.)
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I think they should use a two pronged approach. The first is to stiffen penalties; but the second is a way for the drunks to avoid driving.

There are lots of alternatives already used in the second case, from low cost shuttling, to “warm rooms” with a cot. Having a breathalyzer in bars helps, as does encouraging the use of designated drivers.

For persistent and obnoxious drunk drivers, it would not be unreasonable to use court ordered injunctions directed at them as individuals, prohibiting their even entering places that served alcohol, prohibited serving them alcohol after public notification to such places, and even a small reward for such establishments informing the police about violations.

If they violate that order, they are immediately brought before a judge on a contempt of court citation, with no jury needed for the judge to lock them up for months.


15 posted on 08/27/2013 9:39:25 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (The best War on Terror News is at rantburg.com)
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To: cuban leaf
I always amazed the there are a lot of Freepers want more laws and more government control as long as it meets their agenda and not the lefts.

I'm not amazed at all, cuban leaf: lots of people are in favor of a little freedom.

16 posted on 08/27/2013 9:44:54 AM PDT by Standing Wolf (No tyrant should ever be allowed to die of natural causes.)
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To: cuban leaf
I’m safer with a BAL of .12 than the average middle aged asian woman driver in Seattle with no alcohol in her system, but they are driving legally while I would see my life turned upside down if I ever actually did that and got caught.

^^^^^^
This

Rather than some arbitrary BAC number, there should be a standard performance test (reflex time, etc) that EVERYONE must pass. Old people kill plenty of innocent people because of poor eyesight, poor reflex times and just being in over their head driving in traffic. In addition, some roads are easier to drive on than others. Perhaps a graduated license and a road classification system to keep incompetent people out of situations beyond their ability

17 posted on 08/27/2013 10:20:53 AM PDT by BlueMondaySkipper (Involuntarily subsidizing the parasite class since 1981)
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To: DManA
Prison rape is a national scandal.

Couldn't agree more.

18 posted on 08/27/2013 10:25:27 AM PDT by jimt (Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.)
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To: jimt

And it makes me a little sick when people joke about it.


19 posted on 08/27/2013 10:50:28 AM PDT by DManA
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To: humblegunner

I knew you’d all go nuts NOT reading my post. *Rolleyes*

Had anyone in your family murdered by a drunk? It’s called Vehicular HOMICIDE for a reason.

Walk a mile in my shoes.


20 posted on 08/27/2013 10:51:19 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: Standing Wolf

When you get right down to brass tacks freedom is not very popular. Probe a bit and most peoples’ attitude is freedom for me but not for thee.


21 posted on 08/27/2013 10:52:04 AM PDT by DManA
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To: Diana in Wisconsin

That is why victims should not set policy.

I am sincerely sorry for your loss and I feel your grief.


22 posted on 08/27/2013 10:53:30 AM PDT by DManA
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To: Diana in Wisconsin
It’s called Vehicular HOMICIDE for a reason.

Surely. But you are advocating for punishment of someone who has not committed that crime.

Driving after drinking and killing someone are slightly different things, don't you think?

23 posted on 08/27/2013 10:53:40 AM PDT by humblegunner
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To: humblegunner

I’m sorry. I’m mean...but you and Laz already know that, LOL! :)


24 posted on 08/27/2013 10:54:37 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: humblegunner

P.S. We’ve got people running around loose in this state with TWELVE CONVICTIONS under their belts and not a minute of jail time served.

It’s insanity. Your rights END where mine BEGIN and if you choose to drive impaired, my rights are infinged upon.

I’ll change my punishment to Public Hanging after 3 strikes. ;)


25 posted on 08/27/2013 10:57:00 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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To: riverrunner

Hypocrisy knows no ideological boundries. I often tell people here they should go bowling with liberals sometime since they have a lot more in common than they want to admit.


26 posted on 08/27/2013 10:59:20 AM PDT by Orangedog (An optimist is someone who tells you to 'cheer up' when things are going his way)
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To: afraidfortherepublic
Again, JB does a fine imitation of an idiot!

You beat me to it! After reading the article I was planning to write a very similar comment about JB using the "i" word. On this and so many other issues, JB has turned out to be a train wreck. I am starting to miss Peg "The Keg" Lautenschlager!!!

27 posted on 08/27/2013 11:00:18 AM PDT by Ronaldus Magnus
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To: riverrunner

Amazing indeed. On a site such as FREE Republic no less.


28 posted on 08/27/2013 11:14:06 AM PDT by publana (Beware the olive branch extended by a Dem for it disguises a clenched fist.)
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To: All


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29 posted on 08/27/2013 11:22:37 AM PDT by musicman (Until I see the REAL Long Form Vault BC, he's just "PRES__ENT" Obama = Without "ID")
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To: knittnmom

Not sure which of those options is worse.

Might want to just staY ON THE ROAD!


30 posted on 08/27/2013 2:18:01 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: humblegunner; All

FYI - not picking at a scab, but this morning? Guy was arrested for his FIFTH DUI...and had his kids in the car with him!

Houston? We have a serious drinking culture problem in Wisconsin.


31 posted on 08/28/2013 12:14:08 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin (I don't have 'Hobbies.' I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set...)
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