WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted in the 2019-2020 legislative session.
2019 Act 31 – Requires that a sentence for intoxicated use of a vehicle (OWI homicide) include a prison term of at least five years. The sentencing judge, however, may impose a lesser term if there is a compelling reason and the judge states the reason on the record.
The law was introduced as AB 17; its companion Senate bill was SB 8.
It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Nov. 20, 2019.
Department of Corrections –$525,000 annually, including costs for treatment and contract jail beds.
Courts – Fewer than 50 cases annually will be affected. Undetermined, minimal impact.
District Attorneys – Unknown, minimal.
Department of Justice – Unknown.
Department of Transportation – None.
State Public Defender – There may be a slight cost increase as extended threat of incarceration may cause an increase in the number of cases resolved by trial rather than plea.
Rep. Jim Ott – Assembly Bill 17 (SB 8) would impose a mandatory minimum of 5 years incarceration for committing homicide while driving drunk. While many judges sentence appropriately, there is no mandatory minimum. We sometimes hear of sentences of as little as a year or two being delivered, and at least one case of less than a year....The bill allows the judge to use discretion and sentence less than five years if the court finds that it is in best interest of the community, the public will not be harmed and the court puts its reasons in writing.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc. registered in favor of the bill.
The Association of State Prosecutors registered against the bill.
The lead authors of AB 17 were Ott (R-Mequon) and Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem).
The lead co-sponsors are Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and David Craig (R-Big Bend).
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