GREEN BAY - A push for tougher drunken driving laws is receiving more support.
Some local lawmakers say Wisconsin has some of the most lenient OWI laws in the country.
While others say changing the laws can only do so much.
"Unfortunately, Wisconsin treats that first offense differently than every other state," said State Representative Andre Jacque, R-De Pere.
Jacque says the three bills he's supporting are steps in the right direction.
"I think it is something where we have to take another look at how we're dealing with alcohol, in general. If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got," he said.
Jacque supports requiring first-time offenders to appear in court to enter a plea, treating a first offense with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 as a misdemeanor, and a third OWI would be a felony.
The six bill bipartisan package would also require minimum jail or prison time if someone is injured or killed.
Another would allow for the seizure of a three-time offender's vehicle.
Jacque says more time is needed to understand how those bills might impact the state.
Now referred to the Senate Transportation Committee, State Senator and committee member Dave Hansen says he doesn't think every bill will pass. But says the ones that do must have the necessary funding to cover court or incarceration cost increases.
"When you start looking at it, what it comes down to is, it costs a lot of money," said State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.
The Tavern League of Wisconsin says focus should be put on the laws currently in place and targeting repeat offenders.
"These are alcoholics. We need to look at a way that provide meaningful treatment that makes sure that these individuals aren't on our highways," said Scott Stenger, Wisconsin Tavern League lobbyist.
"In my opinion, the best option is definitely treatment, said Bill LaBine, Jackie Nitschke Center executive director.
LaBine says the laws being proposed will only go so far.
"It would really impact the social drinkers, where they can make decisions better. But someone with a alcohol problem, they can cross a line where they lose their judgment," he said.
Which LaBine says is difficult for many alcoholics and repeat OWI offenders to admit.
A public hearing on the drunken driving proposals has not yet been scheduled.
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