Frustration over ongoing OWI incidents - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Frustration over ongoing OWI incidents

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Courtesy: Brown County Sheriff's Office Courtesy: Brown County Sheriff's Office

BROWN COUNTY (WKOW) – Brown County deputies responded to three wrong way drivers and four crashes, including two fatalities, all believed to involve alcohol and all happening this weekend.

WKOW's Green Bay affiliate WBAY reports the state has stiffened OWI laws recently, including making 4th offense a felony effective this year, but the majority of big changes in the last decade targeted repeat offenders.

“It doesn’t make any difference if they’re a first offense or fifth offense: They’re drunk and they’re not supposed to be on the roadway, and we’re just as likely to have a first-offense person as a repeat offender,” says Captain Dan Sandberg, head of the patrol division at the Brown County Sheriff’s Office.

Of the serious injury crashes this past weekend, one was a first offense, and two were their third offense.

A wrong way driver Saturday morning was arrested for his 2nd offense OWI. Another wrong-way driver stopped on Christmas Eve was cited for first offense.

“Every time somebody drinks and drives, it’s causing a danger, and they don’t have to be an alcoholic to be dangerous to society,” says Sandberg. “I don’t know if there’s a prevailing attitude where people think, ‘Well, I’ve got a freebie before I start worrying about it.'”

He thinks the OWI task forces and extra patrols are helping, but it’s not creating the deterrent he thinks is needed.

Statewide, the percentage of first-offense OWI convictions has barely changed in five years, according to Department of Transportation statistics, holding at about 63 percent of all OWI offenses each year.

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