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Tougher laws not only way to beat drunken driving in WI, AG says

By   /   August 26, 2013  /   17 Comments

By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter

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.

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

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.

Contact Ryan Ekvall at rekvall@wisconsinreporter.com or find him on Twitter @Nockian.

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M.D. Kittle is national First Amendment reporter at Watchdog.org. Contact him at mkittle@watchdog.org.

  • Jerry Person

    Scott Walker remembers creating jobs as assemblyman in Wisconsin . It was easy with ALEC. 32000 UNION public sector jobs. It is not as easy this time with out using your tax dollars. Scott Walker has created ALL Wisconsin`s budget problems working for ALEC. In 1997 Walker and Prosser as state assemblymen championed for ALEC with truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime it was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years. As the Wisconsin Budget watch Blog shows . Stopping just a percentage of these long sentences Wisconsin would save 707 million per year. Wisconsin could have free tuition colleges. It shows Wisconsin has wasted 200 billion if you add the numbers to the state budget since 1997. Not including the building new or remodeling of 71 courthouses & 71 county jails & 273 police stations and dozens of prisons 28 billion plus interest. The total is over 70 BILLION plus the 100 Billion spent by social services to support prisoners families because the bread winner was a political prisoner as US Att gen Eric Holder explained. Then farming out prisoners in several states until the courts realized it was not allowed in the Wisconsin constitution. Wisconsin then hired 32000 union public sector workers to fill the jobs housing the prisoners from deputies , judges, district attorneys all owe Walker for creating there jobs. 32000 UNION PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS. The swat teams of all 72 counties cost 3 to 5 million and they have never saved ONE life. They have cost dozens of lives in Wisconsin. This cost taxpayers over 3.8 billion or a half million per day to house these EXTRA prisoners per day in Milwaukee county alone. Wisconsin claims it has 24,000 prisoners compared to Minnesota`s 5500. Wisconsin`s corrections population is 104,000 with over 28,000 prisons in Milwaukee county alone . In 1995 Milwakee county had less than 1000 prisoners . Is Scott Walker moving Wisconsin forward ? This your reason for budget problems in Wisconsin. Big spender big government Scott Walker. Why does he not work for the people he is taking his check from the people ?

    Wisconsin Budget watch blog has a great article on this.

    392 NUNS signed Walkers recall petitions for reason. They are True Christians.

    First we need a just system to get any longer sentencing. long sentencing kills thousands annually . Police chases kill 1677 innocent bystanders last year.
    We must desolve walkers get rich quick scheme.

  • Concerned citizen

    OR we can just do what the rest of the world is moving to… 1 DUI or OWI you don’t get a licence anymore. For ever. Is not harsh it fixes stupid. alternatively remove the owi from bicycles more bikes not cars. most they hurt is themselves trying to drive their bike home instead of an SUV that can kill others.

  • cbar

    Once you have been pulled over for DUI, or OWI. the impoundment of the vehicle of the drunk driver should be mandatory, revocation of the drivers license, 1000 hours of community service (highway cleaning would be great), fines of a minimum of 5,000 (have to hit them where it hurts). If caught again after all these restrictions, 3 yrs minimum in jail; if someone was hurt, then 10 yrs no parole. These people only understand one thing, harsh punishments. if a death occurred due to the OWI, 20 yrs no parole. Have to make an example, but i know all the bleeding hearts will say “is to harsh, i am sure he (she) is sorry and will not do it again. i guarantee it if one of those bleeding hearts happen to loose a family member to a drunk driver, they will be the first up in arms demanding why were the laws not tough enough to prevent a death.

  • Dr. Tar

    Nice story – links please.

    Oh and I’ll use a variation on Democrat Fast & Furious excuse (i.e. Bush started it) for making OWI sentencing more severe – Doyle started it.

  • Jerry Person

    Tommy T started this a long time ago way before Doyle. Doyle did not help he did harm too. This is all bout ALEC making money off the taxpayers. ALEC and WALKER have hundreds of schemes bilking the taxpayers. ALEC has 40 years experience and walker has been a lap dog for them since 1995 as the records show. Please explain why walker has cost Wisconsin 400 billion and counting and you still support him. I must ask can you read yet ?

  • Jerry Person

    OWI laws allow the police to be the judge and jury. As the prison population numbers show you will not find a honest cop in Wisconsin. It would be dangerous and would not fit in with ALECS justice system that rules Wisconsin like a ZAR. This will help ALEC and not save lives. ALEC`s laws in 50 states no have grandmothers afraid to stop because the ALEC officer will grope them and the could get shot. In 1979 a officer un holstered his weapon on average 0once in a carrier. todays unstable police do this daily. facts show last year 1882 babies died from crib death. 57 cops died from bad guys bullets. So police have safer jobs than a baby in a crib by 175 times. Just imagine how unstable and how big of COWARD must wear a vest. What`s next putting vest on babies. do not fall for ALEC propaganda. If police were not allowed guns or streets would be safe again. ALEC has made our streets unsafe.

  • Dr. Tar

    Jerry Person, I can’t really comment on something I have never seen before or heard about (i.e. ALEC?).
    I’ve asked for links and if you could just provide them I’d willingly dissuade you of your notions of what a terrible governor Walker is. But I’m too lazy (or don’t really care enough about your screed) to look it up my self.

  • Jerry Person

    U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil, Rock County Circuit Judge Michael R. Fitzpatrick and Madison attorney James D. Peterson have been recommended as candidates for an open seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.

    U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin announced the recommendations Thursday.

    This shows Tammy Balwin is a ALEC supporter. John Vaudreuil is not only a ALEC kingpin he is the US attorney who refused to prosecute his friend Scott Walker. Everyone knows it was because they are ALEC brothers in arms.

    Tammy must need the money from ALEC the ANTI American legislative exchange commission. These are Scott Walkers puppet masters and now Tammy Baldwins. Tammy is now a ALEC brother in arms.

    Wisconsin legislature Peter Barca has a staff member robert jambois who is also a ALEC kingpin like Tammy Baldwin. Barca knows is and does nothing. this makes Barca a ALEC supporter just like Baldwin. This makes them FAKE DEMOCRATS harming us all. In public they say one thing and do another. ask Barca about Jambois being advanced because as a Kenosha district attorney he had great conviction rates. Anyone can extort the poor , our children and other easy prey under the cover of the law. He helped Walker fill ALEC`s prisons and jails for money. Guilty until proven innocent as eric holder has explained. Anything else is Jambois lying. He also had double standards like all ALEC members. When DOZENS of women and young girls complained about local constable Bob Hass sexually harming women in traffic stops . jambois joked about it. He had complaints weekly for decades. His protection of Hass made hass attack more and more women.

  • Jerry Person

    If you never heard of ALEC you must only watch fox fake news. ALEC has been in the media the last two months because ALEC has wrote all walkers laws.

    Scott Walker remembers creating jobs as assemblyman in Wisconsin . It was easy with ALEC. 32000 UNION public sector jobs. It is not as easy this time with out using your tax dollars. Scott Walker has created ALL Wisconsin`s budget problems working for ALEC. In 1997 Walker and Prosser as state assemblymen championed for ALEC with truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime it was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years. As the Wisconsin Budget watch Blog shows . Stopping just a percentage of these long sentences Wisconsin would save 707 million per year. Wisconsin could have free tuition colleges. It shows Wisconsin has wasted 200 billion if you add the numbers to the state budget since 1997. Not including the building new or remodeling of 71 courthouses & 71 county jails & 273 police stations and dozens of prisons 28 billion plus interest. The total is over 70 BILLION plus the 100 Billion spent by social services to support prisoners families because the bread winner was a political prisoner as US Att gen Eric Holder explained. Then farming out prisoners in several states until the courts realized it was not allowed in the Wisconsin constitution. Wisconsin then hired 32000 union public sector workers to fill the jobs housing the prisoners from deputies , judges, district attorneys all owe Walker for creating there jobs. 32000 UNION PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS. The swat teams of all 72 counties cost 3 to 5 million and they have never saved ONE life. They have cost dozens of lives in Wisconsin. This cost taxpayers over 3.8 billion or a half million per day to house these EXTRA prisoners per day in Milwaukee county alone. Wisconsin claims it has 24,000 prisoners compared to Minnesota`s 5500. Wisconsin`s corrections population is 104,000 with over 28,000 prisons in Milwaukee county alone . In 1995 Milwaukee county had less than 1000 prisoners . Is Scott Walker moving Wisconsin forward ? This your reason for budget problems in Wisconsin. Big spender big government Scott Walker. Why does he not work for the people he is taking his check from the people ?

    UW Marquette did this study. Google it.

    392 NUNS signed Walkers recall petitions for reason. They are True Christians.

    This clearly show you must leave Wisconsin to find a honest cop, judge, district attorney. They are all members kingpins for ALEC. Any grand jury would convict on this evidence alone

    The Hoover files show IBM, GM, FORD, KOCH and Prescott Bush financed and helped Hilter. Hoover stated that if not for Bush financing Hitler his war could not have happened. read the Hoover files and you will learn about America`s communist party. The GOP. Educated people know the GOP is not American ideals. Walkers laws only pass Russian constitutions. Please educate yourself. there may be time to save your sole. Can 950 nuns be wrong ?

    J Edgar Hoover called them ALL traitors. These are now ALL ALEC members now helping Scott Walker. So much for democracy.
    If you now support Walker you deserve what you get.

  • scanman

    28,000 in jail or prison from Milwaukee county and the total was less than 1,000 in 1995? Sounds like the problem is Milwaukee County – check where all the disability payments for Social Security are paid!

  • craigdev

    Why do you losers always throw acronyms around like candy? When you can’t talk intelligently, you start chanting ALEC, KOCH, LIAR…yada yada. Why can’t you just discuss the problem? Which was…drunk driving.. don’t you have the ability folks?… No y’all have to start chanting ALEC and accuse the rest of us of watching fake news! Ha! Say what? I’ll show you fake news…. No we just don’t need to be suckered in by stupid notions and throw around acronyms because we are too shallow to discuss a subject intelligently. You guys are getting really tiresome.

  • Dr. Tar

    Jerry Person I think I found a link related to what you’re talking about.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lENb6OzabPs

  • Jerry Person

    Scott Walker remembers creating jobs as assemblyman in Wisconsin . It was easy with ALEC. 32000 UNION public sector jobs. It is not as easy this time with out using your tax dollars. Scott Walker has created ALL Wisconsin`s budget problems working for ALEC. In 1997 Walker and Prosser as state assemblymen championed for ALEC with truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime. This was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years. As the Pray for justice Blog shows . Stopping just a percentage of these long sentences Wisconsin would save 707 million per year in Milwaukee County alone. Wisconsin could have free tuition colleges. This shows Wisconsin has added 200 billion of the state budget since 1997 . Not including the building new or remodeling of 71 courthouses & 71 county jails & 273 police stations and dozens of prisons 28 billion plus interest. The total is over 70 BILLION plus the 130 Billion spent by social services to support prisoners families because the bread winner was a political prisoner as US Att gen Eric Holder explained. Then farming out prisoners in several states until the courts realized it was not allowed in the Wisconsin constitution. Wisconsin then hired 32000 union public sector workers to fill the jobs housing the prisoners from deputies , judges, district attorneys all owe Walker for creating there jobs. 32000 UNION PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS. The swat teams of all 72 counties cost 3 to 5 million and they have never saved ONE life. They have cost dozens of lives in Wisconsin. Milwaukee county alone cost taxpayers over 3.8 billion or a half million tax dollars per day to house these EXTRA prisoners. Wisconsin claims it has 24,000 prisoners compared to Minnesota`s 5500. Wisconsin`s corrections population is 104,000 with over 27,000 prisons in Milwaukee county alone . In 1995 Milwaukee county had less than 1000 prisoners . They now have 27 times more prisoners under Walkers law. Triple per capita in any other state . Is Scott Walker moving Wisconsin forward making Wisconsin by far the largest prison state in the world per capita ? Walker has always used fussy numbers. Lets get to the truth. lets end these Rico act criminal rackettering regimes. This has caused thousands to form gangs to protect themselves for these perverts. This has made Wisconsin a dangerous place for many. They fear the police regimes. This is Wisconsin`s Holocost. The feds must step in and arrest every member of the state criminal regimes. Starting with ALL the judges like Prosser who have never judged just rubber stamped. If we had just one honest judge in Wisconsin this would end. Wisconsin is the police state thanks to ALEC and there puppets pretending to be justice systems. This your reason for budget problems in Wisconsin. Big spender big government Scott Walker. These policies have thousands in jail because of guilt by association because they are gang members. So if not for double standards Walker would be in a jail. How many of his associates are in jail that refused to snitch on their boss. UW Marquette did this study. Pray for justice in Wisconsin also has more. Google it. 392 NUNS signed Walkers recall petitions for reason. They are True Christians. This clearly shows you must leave Wisconsin to find a honest cop, judge, or a district attorney. They are all kingpins for ALEC. Any grand jury would convict every member of Wisconsin`s criminal justice regimes on this evidence alone. Honesty and justice is a myth in the just us system in Wisconsin all thanks to Scott Walker and David Prosser. ALEC advanced Prosser with a judgeship and Walker with the Governor job. These evil people hurt millions of good people. A greedy few harming us all. The Hoover files show IBM, GM, FORD, KOCH and Prescott Bush financed and helped Hilter. J Edgar Hoover called them ALL traitors. Mainstream media now acknowledges Bush financed Hitler. These are now ALL ALEC members now helping Scott Walker. So much for democracy.

  • Jerry Person

    It is obvious you have no clue like all GOP. I must ask how did you get so out of touch. the facts scare you. you must be a member of one of walkers criminal regimes harming our youth. Lets talk facts LIAR. I have stated where I get my facts. I know you get yours from your bottle of kesslers. Sober up you sound like your the village idiot.
    I will not even give you enough respect to watch your fake video.

  • Dr. Tar

    Lighten up Jerry.

    If a moon bat liberal rants on and on and no one reads it, does anybody really care?

  • Jerry Person

    lighten up. What about the million of people walker hurt. This is some sick ????? This must be exposed an stopped. lighten up . You must be part of the problem. this should make you mad if you ever paid taxes. Republicans are tax cheats and never pay. They live on welfare like republican senator Ron Johnson who collected over one million tax dollars in welfare for his business. then he used the money to buy his election. the stupidest senator in history.

  • Jerry Person

    Scott Walker remembers creating jobs as assemblyman in Wisconsin . It was easy with ALEC. 32000 UNION public sector jobs. It is not as easy this time with out using your tax dollars. Scott Walker has created ALL Wisconsin`s budget problems working for ALEC. In 1997 Walker chairman of the Assembly corrections committee and Prosser both as state assemblymen championed for ALEC truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime. This was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years. As the Pray for justice Blog shows .The Wisconsin state legislature apparently recognized the folly of truth in sentencing and rolled-back aspects of the law between 2001 and 2009. When Scott Walker became governor, he reversed this progress and pushed for legislation fully restoring the ALEC corporation-supported truth in sentencing, despite the costs to taxpayers and despite claiming Wisconsin was “broke.” In early July, Governor Walker’s office released a statement supporting expanded use of prison labor, another idea promoted in ALEC bills. Some observers have speculated that private prisons are next. NONE of these ALEC bills are wrote in Wisconsin. Stopping just a percentage of these long sentences Wisconsin would save 707 million per year in Milwaukee County alone. Just imagine the saving with all 72 counties. Wisconsin could have free tuition colleges. This shows Wisconsin has added 200 billion of the state budget since 1997 . Including the building of new or remodeling of 71 courthouses & 71 county jails & 273 police stations and dozens of prisons costing 28 billion plus interest. The total is over 70 BILLION with all the wages plus the 130 Billion spent by social services to support prisoners families because the bread winner was a political prisoner as US Att gen Eric Holder explained. Then farming out prisoners in several states until the courts realized it was not allowed in the Wisconsin constitution. Wisconsin then was forced to hire 32000 union public sector workers to fill the jobs housing the prisoners from deputies , judges, district attorneys who all now owe Walker for creating their jobs. 32000 UNION PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS. The swat teams of all 72 counties cost 3 to 5 million that has never saved ONE life. They have cost hundreds of lives in Wisconsin. Milwaukee county alone cost taxpayers over 3.8 billion or a half million tax dollars per day to house these EXTRA prisoners. Wisconsin claims it has 24,000 prisoners compared to Minnesota`s 5500. Wisconsin`s corrections population is 104,000 with over 27,000 prisons in Milwaukee county alone as the UWM at Marquette study shows. . In 1995 Milwaukee county had less than 1000 prisoners . Is Scott Walker moving Wisconsin forward making Wisconsin by far the largest prison state in the world per capita ? Walker has always used fussy numbers. Lets get to the truth. Lets end these Rico act criminal rackettering regimes. This has caused thousands to form gangs to protect themselves form these perverts. This has made Wisconsin a dangerous place for many. They fear the police regimes. This is Wisconsin`s Holocaust. The feds must step in and arrest every member of the state criminal regimes. Starting with ALL the judges like Prosser who have never judged he is just rubber stamped. If we had just ONE HONEST judge in Wisconsin this would end. Wisconsin is a police state thanks to ALEC and there puppets pretending to be justice systems. This is the reason for budget problems in Wisconsin. Big spender big government Scott Walker. These policies have thousands in jail because of guilt by association because they are gang members. If not for double standards of US ATT. republican John Vaudreuil who has been Walker`s protection racket or Walker and ALEC members would be in a jail. They use a false tax status as the world knows. US attorney Eric Holder is also protecting ALEC and walker or they could not exist. How many of his associates are in jail that refused to snitch on their boss. This clearly shows you must leave Wisconsin to find a honest cop, judge, or a district attorney. They are all kingpins for ALEC. Any grand jury would convict every member of Wisconsin`s criminal justice regimes on this evidence alone. Honesty and justice is a myth in the just us systems in Wisconsin all thanks to Scott Walker and David Prosser. ALEC advanced Prosser with a judgeship and Walker with the Governor job. The Hoover files show IBM, GM, FORD, KOCH and Prescott Bush financed and helped Hilter. This killed 185,924 American`s in Europe. J Edgar Hoover called them ALL traitors. Mainstream media now acknowledges Bush financed Hitler. They say if not for Bush hilter could not have had the war. These are now ALL ALEC members now helping Scott Walker. So much for democracy. These evil people hurt millions of good people in Wisconsin . Most of them children. A greedy few harming us all. UW Marquette did this study. Pray for justice in Wisconsin also has more. Google them. 392 NUNS signed Walkers recall petitions for reason. They are True Christians.

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