Crim­i­nal­iz­ing 1st-time DUIs a tough sell

The Norwalk Hour - - NATION/WORLD -

With a new Demo­cratic ally in the gov­er­nor’s of­fice, a hand­ful of Re­pub­li­can law­mak­ers are push­ing for Wis­con­sin to join the rest of the coun­try and crim­i­nal­ize first-of­fense drunken driv­ing. On pa­per it might look like a can’tmiss bi­par­ti­san ini­tia­tive, but it’s not that easy in a state where beer is so much a part of the cul­ture that the ma­jor league base­ball team is called the Brew­ers. Pow­er­ful Re­pub­li­can op­po­nents are al­ready lin­ing up against the idea, call­ing it im­prac­ti­cal and too ex­pen­sive.

“We want to feel like we’re re­ally be­ing strict on drunk driv­ers,” said Re­pub­li­can state Sen. Van Wang­gaard, chair­man of the Se­nate ju­di­ciary com­mit­tee and an op­po­nent of crim­i­nal­iz­ing first of­fense. “But it’s not about pun­ish­ing that per­son that made that poor choice. It’s about di­rect­ing them to make good choices.”

Wis­con­sin’s love af­fair with booze dates to state­hood. Mil­wau­kee has served as home to some of the coun­try’s big­gest brew­ers, in­clud­ing Pabst, Sch­litz, Miller and Blatz. The Prince­ton Re­view in 2017 rated the Uni­ver­sity of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son as the school with the most beer.

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