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Legislative committee takes first vote on drunken-driving crackdown

A state legislative committee took its first vote Tuesday on one of many long-promised crackdowns on drunken driving in Wisconsin.

The Assembly's Public Safety panel voted unanimously to make certain offenders blow into tubes before they can start their vehicles to make sure they're alcohol-free.

The ignition interlocks would be required for one year for all repeat OWI offenders, and first-timers with blood alcohol levels of .15 or higher.

The drunken drivers would have to buy and maintain the devices, and pay a $50 surcharge.

The bill's sponsor, Assembly Democrat Tony Staskunas of West Allis, hopes the full house can pass it next June.

Meanwhile, senators say they're still working on a more comprehensive package of drunken driving reforms that include ignition interlocks, and making three-time OWI a felony.

The parents of Jennifer Bukosky, the Oconomowoc educator killed by a convicted drunken driver, say lawmakers are not doing nearly enough.

Staskunas says he's doing what he can but it would be a waste of time to push bills his colleagues simply won't touch.

He says very few lawmakers support roadside checkpoints for drunken drivers and no one has stepped forward to try and make first-time OWI a crime.