No Really, How Do You Get Arrested Twice for OWI in 4 Hours?

arrested-twice-for-owiWe keep saying it: drunk driving is different from other crimes. For one thing, it’s committed by people who are otherwise not disposed to criminal acts. Also, the people who commit it often don’t realize they’re doing it – they think they’re “okay to drive.”

And finally, it is a crime uniquely prone to recidivism. Some states have specific punishments for third, fourth, and fifth drunk driving convictions. The reason is, in part, that alcohol, which makes you unable to drive safely, also makes you unable to realize that you’re unable to drive safely.

A man in West Bend, Wisconsin experienced alcohol’s brain-dulling power to the fullest last week. He was arrested for a second offense OWI, with an added aggravating factor: he did not have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license.

After being released to a friend, the man was caught speeding on Highway 45, tested again (he blew a .092) and arrested for the same two charges.

The Case Against License Suspension

One thing that’s clear is that the offender’s license suspension did nothing. Statistics show that some half to three-quarters of suspended drivers get behind the wheel despite their suspension, and if they’re drunk, they’ll certainly not let a suspension get in the way of their motoring. So if offenders like this are to be stopped in the interest of public safety, something else needs to be done.

The Case for Confiscation and Interlocks

How could Wisconsin have prevented this man from being arrested twice for OWI in 4 hours? If the offender had an ignition interlock installed on his vehicle after the first offense – as he would have had in 30 other states – he wouldn’t have been able to start the car and endanger himself and others. Wisconsin does not order ignition interlocks for most first offenses.

An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Having been caught driving impaired and without a license, the offender should not have been released while owning a car that did not have an ignition interlock installed. The most practical solution would be to confiscate vehicles and not return them until the day they are booked for an interlock installation.

Clearly, someone who is arrested twice in 4 hours for drunk driving is someone who wants to drive drunk. It’s up to the people of Wisconsin to tell their legislators what they want. We presume they’ll want to be safe from recidivist drunk drivers like this man, which means stronger and better-enforced ignition interlock laws.