Milwaukee, WI- About half of all drunken or drugged drivers don’t learn their lesson the first time around. Even after paying their fines, having their license suspended and going through all the legal headaches many people drive while intoxicated over and over again. OWI recidivism is such major issue in Wisconsin that two lawmakers are taking steps to make the state’s laws harder on repeat offenders.

Rep. Eric Genrich, (D-Green Bay) told the Post Crescent that he and fellow lawmaker Rep. Andre Jacque, (R- De Pere) are working on legislation that will help curtail OWIs. Under the legislation, motorist with five of more OWIs would be banned from driving for life.

“In simple terms, it’s five strikes and you’re out,” Genrich said, according to the Post Crescent. “This proposal recognizes that driving is a privilege, not a right. And I think it’s fair to say that if you’ve repeatedly shown that you cannot be a responsible driver, you should be held accountable for that.”

Genrich said the legislation calls for OWI offenders who kill someone in a drunken driving accident to lose their license before a fifth offense. There will also be a provision that allows an OWI offender, who has maintained a clean driving record and completed an addiction treatment program, to get their license back after ten years.

Jacque said he would prefer if the lifetime driving ban was imposed after the fourth offense, but said the fifth was a good first step. He also said he would like legislation to require first-time OWI offenders to appear in court.

Compared to other states, Wisconsin has relatively lenient OWI laws. There is no mandatory jail requirement for a first offense and the maximum amount of time a person will lose their license is nine months.

While many states are moving towards making ignition interlock devices mandatory for first offenders, Wisconsin has not made such steps. The federal government, MADD and other safety advocates have pushed states to make ignition interlock devices mandatory for first offenders in light of CDC data which shows that mandatory use of ignition interlock devices reduces OWI/DUI recidivism rates by 67 percent.

Don’t let Wisconsin’s lenient OWI laws fool you into thinking that the effects of this charge won’t have much of an impact on your life. That is just wrong. The look back period in the state is ten years and any OWI conviction within that period of time will impact an offender’s resulting penalties. That will be more problematic if lawmakers are successful in their effort to strengthen the state’s OWI laws.

If you have been charged with a drunken driving offense, whether it is your first or subsequent offense, you need a Wisconsin OWI attorney, such as working on your case. The consequences may not be as tough as other states, but there are still consequences that can make your life very difficult. You’ll have a record that may be unappealing to employers and will bar you from certain professions.