Over the years, Wisconsin has received a lot of criticism for its lax drunk driving laws – and rightly so considering alcohol-related crashes kill approximately 162 people in Wisconsin each year and injure almost 2, 700 others. A recent revision to criminal penalties, which now makes a fourth DUI a felony charge, has garnered some positive attention but this change may not be sufficient enough to reduce the number of drunk driving accidents. Pierce County is taking some serious action, though, with a DUI program that is aimed at keeping felony DUI offenders on the straight and narrow.
How the New Program Will Work
Set to be implemented by January 2017, the DUI diversion program will specifically target felony DUI offenders (those who have four or more convictions). It will be modeled after the existing drug diversion program, which requires rigorous testing and massive accountability from those enrolled. Over the course of 18 months, they will be required to submit to random urinalysis testing to determine if they have been drinking. They will also have to complete an alcohol treatment program.
If the offenders successfully complete their program, they may have some of their jail or prison sentence reduced. Some may even be eligible for home monitoring. A relapse would not necessarily bar them from completing the program, but it would give them a lot of incentive for staying sober.
Could the Program Reduce Drunk Driving Accidents?
One of the most alarming facts about drunk driving accidents is that many of the intoxicated drivers are repeat offenders. Some have simply been driving drunk and have not yet been caught. Others have had several convictions and may even be at the felony point. How do they keep driving? The reality is that, because of the lax criminal penalties, drunk drivers do not have any real negative consequences that deter them from engaging in further acts of negligence. In fact, a first offense may result in little more than a traffic ticket. During the second and third offense, they may simply pay their fines, serve a small sentence, and then return home with little to no penalties.
In a way, these insufficient penalties answer the question as to whether or not the program could reduce drunk driving accidents. Theoretically, it might. Realistically though, there need to be more severe penalties that occur much sooner than the fourth conviction. After all, statistics indicate that, on average, a drunk driver has already driven intoxicated as many as 80 times before their first arrest.
Injured in a Drunk Driving Accident? Our Attorneys Can Help
When an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a car, they put everyone else on the road at risk for death or injury. At Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd., we believe that they should be held accountable for their actions, and not just criminally. Victims who are injured deserve restitution and compensation. They deserve justice. Our Appleton, Wisconsin drunk driving accident lawyers aggressively represent these victims and strive to ensure they receive a fair settlement. Request skilled assistance with your case. Call us at 920-739-7366 and schedule your consultation today.