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Three more OWI bills get public hearing in Madison

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Three more drunk driving bills will get a public hearing this week in the Wisconsin Legislature.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear comments on Thursday about making first-time OWI a criminal misdemeanor, if the driver’s blood alcohol level is 0.15 or higher.

Wisconsin is the only state where first-time drunk driving is generally a citation and not a criminal offense. The only exception is when a young child is in the vehicle.

The other two bills in Thursday’s hearing would let authorize seize the vehicles of certain drunk drivers – and require all OWI suspects to appear in court at least once.

The bills are authored by Assembly Republican Jim Ott of Mequon and Senate Republican Alberta Darling of River Hills.

They also sponsored three other bills which had hearings recently. Those measures would make three and four-time drunk driving a felony, and require longer prison terms for those who kill or injure motorists by driving drunk. 

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