Wis. committee to vote on drunken driving bills

A Wisconsin Assembly committee is scheduled to vote this week on a package of bills that would impose stiffer sanctions on drunken drivers.

The Republican-authored proposals would change third and fourth offenses from misdemeanors to felonies; make the first offense a misdemeanor if the driver’s blood-alcohol level is 0.15 percent or higher; impose mandatory sentences on drunken drivers who injure or kill someone; require mandatory court appearances; and allow authorities to seize drunken drivers’ cars.

The bills come with enormous price tags. The state Department of Corrections estimates changing third and fourth offenses to felonies could drive up the agency’s operating costs by as much as $226 million annually.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the bills Thursday. Approval would clear the way for a full Assembly vote.