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Special Wisconsin license could prevent OWI accident

Warnings regarding the dangers of drinking and driving are prevalent in today's society. Despite these warnings, drivers continue to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming alcohol, potentially placing others at risk of being involved in an accident. While Wisconsin has attempted to enact laws that would provide proper consequences for OWI offenders, some lawmakers claim that certain laws could allow such individuals to reoffend.

Under current law, judges can require that a person convicted of driving under the influence have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her car. This device only allows the car to be started after the person blows into the device, proving that the driver is not under the influence of the alcohol. However, even a person required to have such a device in a vehicle owned by him or her could drink and drive another person's car. If caught doing so, the person will likely only be issued a fine.

A recently proposed state bill could get rid of what the bill writers have called a "loophole." If the proposals pass, OWI offenders would be issued a special "Ignition Interlock Restrictions" driver's license. Passage of the bill would require a person issued such a license to use an ignition interlock device regardless of whose car he or she is driving. Failure to do so could result in criminal penalties.

While it seems clear that Wisconsin legislators are working hard to protect residents from the harm that could be caused from a person driving under the influence, a bill will likely do little to help those who were injured or lost a loved one as a result of a drunk driving accident. In some cases, the best option for these victims is to pursue legal recourse in a civil court. If it can be proved that an accident was caused by a driver's negligence, the injured parties could be awarded damages to help with medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and funeral expenses, as applicable.

Source: wrn.com, "Lawmakers look to close 'loophole' in Wisconsin drunk driving laws", June 22, 2015

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Godfrey, Leibsle,
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