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Proposed drunken-driving reforms get public hearing

A state Senate committee held a public hearing Thursday on a drunken-driving reform package that's a bit tougher than what's being pushed in the Assembly.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker told the judiciary panel that he and Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa, are offering the most comprehensive package of reforms at the Capitol.

Among other things, it would make three-time OWI a felony, something which doesn't happen now until a driver's fifth offense.

Decker, who was convicted of OWI in 2005, said he had heartfelt sorrow for the victims of drunken driving.

And he singled out Lacey Meinel, 14, Schofield, who was killed in January by an alleged drunken driver northwest of Oshkosh.

Meinel's classmates held a petition drive to get the Legislature to crack down.

But Judy Jenkins, the mother of Oconomowoc educator Jennifer Bukosky, said the bill doesn't do enough.

Bukosky, her daughter, and an unborn child were killed in April of last year.

The suspect in that case was awaiting the start of a jail sentence after he had just been convicted of his third drunken-driving offense.

Earlier this week, an Assembly committee held a hearing on a package of measures that would make four-time OWI a felony if it's within five years of a previous offense.

Its supporters said a tougher measure would dramatically increase prison costs at a time when the state budget is deeply in the red.