Criminalizing 1st-time DUIs a tough sell
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.