Tepid response to OWI proposals

2013-02-12T06:24:00Z 2013-02-12T20:02:30Z Tepid response to OWI proposalsALISON BAUTER alison.bauter@journalitmes.com Journal Times

RACINE COUNTY — Local law enforcement offered a tepid response Monday as state legislators began circulating a bill designed to curb drunken driving by instituting tougher penalties for offenders.

“Each time (penalties for drunken driving) get more severe, it seems people continue doing it,” said Gary Larsen, a lieutenant with the Caledonia Police Department, which he said fields around 190 OWIs each year.

Although Larsen said time will tell whether heightened penalties decrease those, it’s a hard problem to solve because drinking is a societal issue. That’s especially true in Wisconsin, which consistently gets ranked worst nationally for binge drinking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and where state laws penalizing drunken driving are among the weakest in the nation.

In hopes of changing that, two Republican lawmakers are seeking support for legislation that would make first-time offenders with blood alcohol levels of 0.15 percent or higher guilty of a misdemeanor; require first-time offenders to appear in court even if they face a civil violation; make a third offense a felony; and allow police to seize third-time offenders’ cars.

Drunken drivers who injure someone would face new mandatory minimum sentences ranging from six months in jail to three years in prison, depending on the severity of the injuries. Drivers who kill someone would face a new mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling called the proposals a step in the right direction, but expressed some ambivalence.

“Naturally, I support this, but I’m not thoroughly convinced that the individuals who first-time drink and drive will be influenced ... they don’t think about the consequences,” he said.

As for repeat offenders, Schmaling said, “They don’t care about penalties.”

Schmaling’s concerns echo the findings of experts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School’s Resource Center on Impaired Driving: If drivers don’t believe they’ll get caught, then stiffer penalties have a negligible long-term impact.

“That just isn’t the end-all answer,” said the Center’s director, Nina Emerson. “This is pretty much more of the same, and how well has the same worked?”

According to Emerson, a driver on his or her first offense likely won’t be deterred by the threat of a misdemeanor; drivers on their third or fourth offense are often alcoholics, and likewise aren’t dissuaded by higher penalties.

Emerson points to sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, which assert a police presence strong enough to convince drivers that getting caught driving drunk is a real possibility. Additionally, for repeat offenders, alcoholism treatment programs are more likely to change behavior than jail time, felonies or fines, Emerson said.

Schmaling said the county sheriff’s department already “proactively patrols” for drunken drivers, typically netting about half of the 700 or so offenders annually caught county-wide.

Although he has his doubts, Schmaling said, “If new penalties get even one person to stop and think before getting behind the wheel and hurting someone, then I fully support it.”

County-wide drunken driving arrests

2011: 690; 300 arrested by Sheriff’s Department

2012: 730; 350 arrested by Sheriff’s Department

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 Journal Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(18) Comments

  1. Just David
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    Just David - February 13, 2013 6:54 am
    You make absolutely no sense now. The fact that a first offense doesn't show up on CCAP has nothing to do with the severity of OWI consequences. That's ok though, I find it impressive that you can not let trivial little things such as FACTS ruin your argument. So instead of going round and round with you I will say this. You are absolutely correct that there is a big dirty conspiracy to let this officer off the hook, and we should all grab our pitch forks and storm City Hall, because this just ain't right!!!!!

    And I'm the tool?
  2. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 13, 2013 6:10 am
    The DUI laws change and get harsher EVERY YEAR! They go back farther and farther,

    You obviously failed to comprehend the comment I posted below.

    You want me to accept an Internet Lawyers opinion based on a question written over 2 years ago?

  3. Kay Nine
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    Kay Nine - February 13, 2013 2:53 am
    As for repeat offenders, Schmaling said, “They don’t care about penalties.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- AND, at that point, it isn't FOR them.... it's for us. That person has proven that they should not be trusted out on the streets anymore. We want to be safe from them. When the repeat drunk doesn't care, someone has to take steps to protect us from them.

    1st offense.... could have been a mistake.... one month in jail with huber privileges, interlock, lose license for 6 months (eligible for work permit IF employed)

    2nd offense.... jail for 6 months, lose license for one year after release, interlock, forced to have brightly colored license plate on designated car identifying them as a repeat drunk driver

    3rd offense.... Felony (lose guns and right to vote), 2 years state prison, lose license for 2 years after release, distinctive license plate

    4th offense..... Felony (lose guns and right to vote), 5 years in prison, lose license for 5 years after release, distinctive license plate

    When they hit 5th offense and more, add 5 years for each additional DWI. 5th=10 years, 6th=15 years, etc. We DON'T need these people free. At this point, they probably drive drunk every day, but only get caught once in a while. Put them somewhere to prevent death and destruction from their stupidity. I really don't care if they're alcoholics or just stupid.... they are still choosing to do wrong.
  4. timbo
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    timbo - February 12, 2013 11:08 pm
    By "Tepid" do you mean sobering? This is like the 50 cent First Class stamp. We're going there, let's just do it now. Let's have 2 strikes and you're out,. 2 OWI convictions and you lose you r license for 5 years.
  5. Just David
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    Just David - February 12, 2013 10:29 pm
    I am not a liar, nor am I uninformed on the facts. I received an OWI 1st offense in 2008 and mine doesn't show up on CCAP. I am just a lowly factory worker with no ties to city hall.

    Since you obviously don't credence to any info that doesn't have a link associated with it, here you go. Feel free to read the second reply from a lawyer and see if that helps talk you down off your conspiracy theory cliff.

  6. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 12, 2013 8:45 pm
    It was reported Keino Turner blew a .16 - here is what Wisconsin DOT says:

    Drunk driving law changes (2010)
    2009 Wisconsin Act 100 summary

    Wisconsin Act 100 strengthens Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws. Provisions of Act 100 apply to violations that occur on or after July 1, 2010.

    Ignition interlocks devices (IIDs) will be required for repeat offenders and first-time offenders at or above a 0.15 blood alcohol level.

    Ignition interlock devices (IIDs)

    Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) will be mandatory for the following convictions:
    ALL repeat OWIs
    ALL refusals
    ALL 1st offense OWI with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher
    IIDs are required for every vehicle owned by or registered to the offender, unless the vehicle is specifically exempted by the court.
    The offender’s driving privilege is restricted so that they can operate only IID equipped vehicles during the duration of the order.
    IIDs must be ordered for a minimum of one year:
    For operating privilege, restriction begins when offender is issued an occupational license or reinstates operating privilege (cannot "wait out" IID anymore).
    For vehicles, courts may order the IID restriction to begin immediately.

    Failure to install, removal, disconnection, tampering or circumvention violations result in a six-month extension of IID.
    Establishes a Prohibitive Alcohol Concentration (PAC) of more than 0.02 for persons subject to an IID order for the duration of the IID order.


    It's a BIG TIME PROBLEM - and it would be on CCAP - UNLESS IT IS BEING COVERED UP. I'll stay on top of it - thanks for letting me know how important covering this up is to RPD.
  7. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 12, 2013 8:31 pm
    You are a liar, or don't know the facts. Simple tickets show up - like not wearing seat belts or not having proof of insurance. I know it is true. SEE FOR YOURSELF:


    As a bonus I CCAP'd Keino Turner, and provided the results.

    The only reason tickets aren't showing up is because they are being thrown out for public officials! I have another friend who got pulled over for tinted windows - that's on CCAP. What's annoying now is that citizens can make simple checks to see who is getting a PASS after a public arrest!

    The covering up of public officials misdeeds needs to end - OR seal ALL RECORDS!

    HEY! Can we all get one ticket to pass then?

    Something funny is going on alright - Cops are getting a pass - they don't respect the law they are sworn to uphold.
  8. Just David
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    Just David - February 12, 2013 6:05 pm
    Ggodmuls, first offense DUI's don't usually show up on CCAP due to the fact that they are mostly handled in municipal court and not county court. Maybe you could reduce your stress level about this by doing a little bit of research before making it look like some elaborate scheme to cover for one of the city's officers who made a mistake that most people make many times in their lives, whether they get caught or not.
  9. Quail24
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    Quail24 - February 12, 2013 5:20 pm
    Hey, where is once in a while with the usual garbage, No where that's where. The numbers don't lie, let's get rid of the SO, NOT!!!
  10. Django
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    Django - February 12, 2013 4:54 pm
    ggodmuls is a godsend to Racine. He/she looks up all the facts for us, on every single issue. He/she is the anti-Dickert,, exposing lie after lie after lie from Dickert and his cronies. I read the fantasies printed in the Journal Times, then I read the reality in ggodmuls' comments. Every single lie that Dickert has foisted upon us is refuted by ggodmuls' never ending research. The outing of liars is necessary for democracy. ggodmuls should be given Tommy Friedel's' share of the taxpayer looting. He/she does more to inform Racine citizens of truth in government than all the aldermen combined. Lying John actively promotes lying in his administration. Without ggodmuls, we'd have no way of knowing the truth.
  11. LuvHaytRaytown
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    LuvHaytRaytown - February 12, 2013 2:05 pm
    You know what I haven't had in a while? Big League Chew.
  12. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 12, 2013 11:56 am
    Why are you always on some crusade? Would it make you feel better if they put his picture on a billboard along the highway and put him in jail for a few years? Would that satisfy your anger or are you just needing attention?

    Angry Granny! You just can't leave me alone! What is your problem with demanding accountability and fairness in government? OR is it your liberal attitude - one rule for those who rule and not the rest..... I keep looking to see if the same standard is applied or not - and if it isn't I point it out.

    A 40-year-old Racine police officer was issued a citation for his first drunken driving offense and registered a .16 result on the intoximeter.

    That was reported on Jan. 27, 2013. I have no issue as long as he is treated like everybody else. We know Granny, just as you can't hold Obama to account for murdering Americans around the World as well as brown-skinned men, women, children, their property and animals - who are just worthless collateral damage - you want to give Police a pass from the same laws they are enforcing. I DISAGREE. now, get over yourself and offer an intelligent rebuttal. (Police should be exempt from laws because...)


    When I see an entry on CCAP - I will be satisfied. I also understand that "special consideration" may be provided, and no charges filed, but the citation should still appear, and it will be annotated as so.

    Go watch the Police murder and beat some people and get away with it!

    police brutality compilation of the week (january 10 to january 30 2013)

  13. Relocate
    Report Abuse
    Relocate - February 12, 2013 11:04 am
    Looks like the Sheriff's Office is very efficient at arresting drunk drivers. 190 is also a pretty good number for a small agency like Caledonia. But why aren't the numbers from all agencies being reported?
  14. granny grits
    Report Abuse
    granny grits - February 12, 2013 10:20 am
    Why are you always on some crusade? Would it make you feel better if they put his picture on a billboard along the highway and put him in jail for a few years? Would that satisfy your anger or are you just needing attention?
  15. ggodmuls
    Report Abuse
    ggodmuls - February 12, 2013 8:39 am
    *WOW* - it takes less than a minute to check - so it doesn't take much out of my day. I'll keep checking - given your response, it seems that some are very worried about it.

    CCAP also shows that there is a Keino Turner from Oak Creek (may be different) who was sued by Get It Now on 11-19-2012 and handled it by not showing up, so the Judge dismissed it with without prejudice. Hope it's not the same Keino Turner that blew a .16, according to Milwaukee County Sheriffs.
  16. PABB
    Report Abuse
    PABB - February 12, 2013 8:25 am
    Milwaukee County is a busy place. Even in Racine County there is sometimes quite a delay in cases showing up on CCAP. Because it is non criminal it may not even show up until after it is settled. May I suggest to you to maybe send your mornings a bit more productively than looking at CCAP to make sure people are punished for non criminal matters as to your liking. I assume you have looked up every OWI offender as to not show double standards in your oversight of the legal system. So the guy is a cop, who cares. Leave it alone, he screwed up and he has to handle it both in the workplace, at home, and legally.
  17. ggodmuls
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    ggodmuls - February 12, 2013 8:05 am
    “Naturally, I support this, but I’m not thoroughly convinced that the individuals who first-time drink and drive will be influenced ... they don’t think about the consequences,” he said.

    WELL, do public employees and the Police get a pass? I just CCAP'ed Keino Turner - and there are no charges there - YET. Will they get around to it - or is he getting a "PASS"? Inquiring minds want to know.

    He can still get a "PASS" simply by the charges showing up, and the Prosecutor refusing to press charges - but the arrest record should be there. Tickets for seatbelts appear on CCAP. Can a charge at least appear so an illusion of "FAIRNESS" is given - OR, should all first time offenders get the same pass? NO MORE DOUBLE STANDARDS!

    JT - are you going to visit Racine's top cop - Mayor Dickert (per statute) and ask him about this?

    Concerning the rest of the article : In case you haven't figured it out yet, giving up alcohol is a much better choice - PERIOD.
  18. phoner2
    Report Abuse
    phoner2 - February 12, 2013 8:00 am
    minimum sentencing is nuts, why even have a judge or jury then?
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