Wis. gov signs tougher drunken driving law

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2009 4:53 PM

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle has signed a bill that stiffens the state's drunken driving laws, despite questions about whether it does too little.

The law signed Tuesday makes a fourth offense drunken driving a felony if it occurs within five years of the previous offense. A first offense will be a misdemeanor if someone younger than 16 is in the car. Repeat offenders and first-timers with high blood alcohol contents must get ignition interlocks.

The new penalties take effect July 1.

But two of the toughest changes advocates wanted weren't included: making all first offenses a crime and legalizing roadside sobriety checkpoints.

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Federal data shows about 41 percent of Wisconsin's traffic deaths in 2008 were alcohol-related. The national average was 37 percent.