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Raising speed limit, tougher OWI penalties won't be taken up in Senate

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - If you want to drive 70 in Wisconsin, you'll have to keep breaking the law to do it.  

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says too many of his fellow Republicans oppose the measure that was passed by the Assembly in October.  

GOP transportation committee member Rob Cowles of Green Bay said people are already driving 70 or more on rural interstates, and raising the legal limit could cause more traffic deaths. Also, Fitzgerald told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the Senate will not consider measures approved by the Assembly to make drunk driving penalties tougher.  

Instead, the Senate leader said he'd pursue more funding for specialized courts which focus on treatment for offenders.  

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he wondered why the state has to choose between tougher sentences and treatment -- and it should be able to do both. Fitzgerald said a number of GOP senators are concerned about the cost of sending more drunk drivers to prison, and having more court cases.  

The bills would have made all four-time OWI cases a felony with prison time, made all second-offenses criminal misdemeanors, and required everyone cited for first-time OWI to appear in court. 

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)