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Assembly expected to pass most significant drunken driving reforms in decade

The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to pass tomorrow what supporters call the most significant drunken driving reforms in a decade.

The bill would make four-time OWI a felony if it happens within five years of a third offense.

Repeat offenders would have to breathe into sobriety interlocks before they can start their vehicles and so would first-time offenders with blood alcohol levels of .15 or higher.

Other counties could join Winnebago County in letting second and third time drunken drivers serve less jail time if they get treatment.

And it would be a misdemeanor to drive drunk with a child under 16 in the vehicle.

The mother of Oconomowoc educator Jennifer Bukosky, who was killed by repeat drunken driver Mark Benson last year, called the bill a "baby step" and said more needs to be done.

Rep. Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis promises that Thursday's action won't be the end.

He and Sen. Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa, are still working on a package of reforms both houses can accept.

They're also looking at ways to pay for the increased number of offenders who would be locked up.

The Assembly bill uses beer tax revenue to pay for community-based correctional programs. Sullivan says there's also talk of a higher liquor tax, and higher fines for offenders.