2 OWI Arrests in Under 3 Hours. We Have a Record.

2 OWI arrests: bulls eye imageA second offense OWI in Wisconsin is a serious matter. Wisconsin tends to be lenient for first drunk driving offenders, but comes down harder on second offenses. A repeat OWI, after all, signifies more than a mistake – it means a driver is willfully defying society’s laws.

What about when first and second offense happen the same day?

Preston Bierhals got his first OWI at 4:30 in the morning after a crash in Ashwaubenon. Apparently he was released, because two and a half hours later he was arrested for OWI again, in an area in which he was endangering pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Repeat DUI offenders are a problem in every state.  A few years ago Wisconsin passed a law mandating that chronic OWI offenders with seven convictions must spend 3 years in prison.

That law, however, would not have been of much help here, where an unusually determined offender found another car and proceeded to drive drunk before the ink was dry on his first citation. In fact, it’s hard to know what would have prevented the incident.

The measures we have to counter drunk driving include imprisonment, OWI education classes, ignition interlocks, and punishments such as fines and community service. All of these are useful; ignition interlocks in particular are able to prevent drunk driving recidivism by preventing the vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

But there will always be a few dangerous exceptions, like this man’s 2 OWI arrests. The point is not to let them distract us from the real successes. Over the years alcohol-related crashes have gone down, thanks to stronger laws, ignition interlock technology, and widespread efforts by road safety organizations to change the drinking and driving culture in this country.

Some people are unable to cope with alcohol, and their tendency to drive drunk will overcome them. Once they are identified, measures can usually be taken to minimize the risk they pose to society.

But the great majority of drivers, passengers and pedestrians in America have been well served by ignition interlocks and public awareness campaigns, and we’re all better off as a result. You don’t read about it in the news, but they’re saving lives every day.