Our View: Sad, scary and unbelievableHow does someone with eight, nine, 10 or more drunk driving/impaired convictions have a valid driver’s license to get behind the wheel of a car? That’s what everyone, but especially law enforcement, state lawmakers and the state Department of Transportation, should be figuring out.
How does someone with eight, nine, 10 or more drunk driving/impaired convictions have a valid driver’s license to get behind the wheel of a car?
That’s what everyone, but especially law enforcement, state lawmakers and the state Department of Transportation, should be figuring out. There is no life-time driving ban in Wisconsin. After a certain amount of time, even a driver with multiple OWIs can have a driver’s license re-instated.
Last week a 45-year-old River Falls man — a licensed driver — crashed during the middle of the day after veering into the opposing lane of traffic on Hwy. 35 near River Falls. He then crossed back before careening into a ditch, up an embankment and over some trees. Briefly unconscious, he was taken to the hospital and eventually charged with his ninth driving-while-intoxicated offense.
He’s not alone. In Star-Observer newspaper reports in the past year a quick check found several examples of arrests made for fourth, a couple of fifths and a couple of ninth OWI offenses. We’re sure there are several more, but these turned up without much research.
News accounts of motorists charged with multiple driving-while-intoxicated offenses are simply too common. Those stories are often mixed with tragedies of traffic injuries and fatalities.
They continue to happen despite higher fines and jail sentences, plus license revocations and vehicle seizures for multiple driving-while-intoxicated violators; felony charges for those convicted of a fifth offense; and ignition interlock (breath alcohol) devices installed in the vehicles of some repeat offenders.
Yet still there are those who slip through the cracks, drive while unfit to do so and cause potential mayhem.
In the most recent River Falls case, the man who allegedly did this Nov. 25 — the day after Thanksgiving — was fortunate not to have caused harm to anyone except himself and damage only to his auto. Imagine the uproar if his highway swerving ended in a collision with a school bus filled with children…or any kind of collision that brought injury or death to innocent pedestrians, drivers or bystanders?
Do we have a simple solution? Probably nothing short of incarceration will keep some people off the road, license or no license. No, there are no simple solutions. However, we can’t allow those who repeatedly show an inability or unwillingness to control their appetite for drugs or alcohol the chance to handle a machine at speeds that kill, maim and destroy.