I'm not surprised to find out that Steve Walters is a brandy Old Fashioned kind of guy. Brandy is simply part of being old fashioned in Wisconsin. But today the Wispolitics senior writer advises Sconnies that the days of "five to drive" may be over. The drunk driving reforms passed by the legislature last December go into effect July 1.
And a few days after that, you won't be able to make up for the lost drinks by smoking a couple extra cigarettes.
But come on. These are the reforms that are going to shock the state into sobriety? Driving drunk with a child under the age of 16 goes from a traffic violation to a misdemeanor? Fourth offense becomes a felony...if it has been committed within five years of the previous offense?
Both the Post-Crescent and the Green Bay Press Gazette were wise to run an article questioning the effectiveness of these quick-fixes. If you really want to plunge a dagger into the heart of DUI culture in Wisconsin, you have to target the people who aren't overtly reckless or suffer from severe drinking problems. You have to go after first-time offenders. The businessmen who don't think they're going to get caught after a few cocktails at Applebees. The soccer moms who bring a batch of spiked gatorade so they can bear watching toddlers kick a ball around for an hour. Believe me, it happens.
Have you ever noticed those drunk driving ads on TV almost always feature a middle-aged white guy in business attire? His wife is can't watch as he struggles during the field sobriety test. Passing motorists pass and shake their heads in disgust. The message sent is clear: You don't have to be a swerving, slobbering drunk to be arrested.
That's the cultural message that I think my generation appreciates more than older ones. It explains the incredulity of young people who heard the Assembly did not vote to expel a guy arrested for OWI three times in one year. Or repeated editorials from campus papers urging for the third OWI to be a felony.
Along with the propaganda, a stiff minimum sentence for first-time offenders, such as a mandatory weekend in jail, would make a much bigger difference than making punishments for fourth time offenders harsher. By the time you rack up three or four offenses, it is unlikely that any legal ramifications will have an effect on your behavior. You most likely suffer from a serious addiction and need treatment.
But of course, the legislature is not willing to fund any serious reform because to do so might include a tax on the state's beloved beer industry. Haha, this is a particularly ridiculous rant against the beer tax by Kyle, at the Northshore Exponent:
This comes into play as the State Senate candidate [Leah Vukmir] exposed the once center-left and now extreme left wing State Senator [Jim Sullivan] for trying to inflict more taxes on Wisconsin's middle class at a time when Wisconsin cannot afford new taxes.
Does Kyle know that Sullivan was the only Senate Democrat to vote against the Democratic budget last year?