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Letter To The Editor - Make First Offense OWI A Felony

To: Gov. Scott Walker, State Rep. Garey Bies, State Sen. Frank Lasee, US Rep. Reid Ribble, US Sen. Tammy Baldwin, US Sen. Ron Johnson

Lady and Gentlemen:

Please consider this question carefully and I ask that you provide an explanation of your answers to the citizens of Wisconsin.

What is your excuse/belief/reason for allowing drunken people and drunk drivers in Wisconsin to continue the maiming, killing and property damage that is inflicted on innocent citizens by neglecting or refusing to take stern actions on the first OWI?

Consider the stories in the last few weeks of a family’s loss of attending the graduation event of a daughter by a man who was asked to leave his daughter’s graduation because he was drunk.  Consider the records concerning OWIs of Timothy Reed, Jeffery Reiter, Paul Forstner, and we could easily find other instances of damage to property and/or the loss of lives by drunken people and drunk drivers.  For example, the mother who left her infant child to die in a hot car was not in the last few weeks, but these events should be taken into consideration when looking at drunkenness.

The Press Gazette recently gave these numbers: 413,754 citizens with 1 OWI conviction, 8,088 with 5, 1,340 had 7, 159 had 10 or more convictions including 2 who had 16. We citizens of Wisconsin should be heartbroken and ashamed.

That it is Wisconsin’s culture to drink, or that the US distillers influence us, or any other reason are flimsy arguments for not taking serious issue and immediate action to right this inhuman punishment on innocent citizens. How can any of us sleep with the blood of so many Wisconsin citizens on our hands?

I ask the press to bring pressure on all of us to work to make the first OWI a felony, and a second one prison time. The argument is made that it would increase the cost of maintaining our prisons.  Can you honestly weigh that against citizens whose lives and the lives of their loved ones are destroyed or seriously affected?

Those of you who represent your districts and your State can, before this summer is over, act to decrease the danger to all of us from drunken people and drunk drivers. Action is dependent on each of us, especially all of you. I ask this sincerely and with concern for Wisconsin citizens.

Marilynn Slappy 

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