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New proposed law may clear first-time drunk driving records

Driving under the influence of alcohol is never a good idea. Alcohol and many illegal recreational drugs cause a reduced ability to use good judgment and react quickly enough to drive safely. Although every jurisdiction in Wisconsin and the United States has laws against drunk driving, some jurisdictions are taking a more progressive look at the crime.

A new law proposed in Madison would allow people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) to request a clean slate if their behavior has improved. This would only apply to drivers who had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent or less at the time of their arrest and drivers who caused no damage or injury through their drunkenness.

Wisconsin remains the sole U.S. state in which a first-time DUI conviction is a civil offense instead of a criminal one. Some drivers may be charged with a criminal act such as reckless endangerment if their intoxication created the risk of injury or an actual injury. But a traffic stop resulting in arrest without damage or injury is a less serious offense.

The Badger State employs several tools to keep drunk driving in check. Some drivers with a recorded BAC above .15 percent may enter year-long sobriety aid programs or have cars fitted with a device that ensures the driver is sober before the engine starts.

A suspicion of drunk driving should not devalue a life or career. An attorney can be very helpful to drivers arrested on this suspicion and may fight to reduce charges or have them dismissed entirely by the prosecution.

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Green Bay, WI 54301

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