In April, three members of the same family died as a result of a collision with an alleged drunk driver in Kenosha County, Wisconsin. According to law enforcement, the 41-year-old man in the other vehicle had a blood alcohol concentration level nearly four times the legal limit and was traveling at speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour at the time of the accident. A judge recently sentenced him to 32 years in prison.
This was the man’s second OWI offense. The first occurred in 2005, and officials sought to prevent further offenses by indefinitely revoking his driving privileges. However, a loophole in the system allegedly allowed the man to retain his driver license. Wisconsin lawmakers are now working to close that loophole.
In 2008, three years after his first Wisconsin OWI, the man applied to renew his Illinois driver license. He responded in the negative to the question on the application asking about the revocation of his driving privileges in any other state. At that time, Illinois had no way to verify the man’s claim.
The Driver License Compact is an agreement among the majority of the states in the country to share information with one another about OWI and other serious offenses. Forty-five states currently belong to the compact, but Wisconsin is one of five that do not. If Wisconsin had belonged to the compact in 2008, licensing officials in Illinois would have had access to the information regarding the prior revocation.
When asked why Wisconsin is not part of the DLC, the Department of Transportation responded that it would require a legislative act. Many Wisconsin lawmakers were unaware of the existence of the DLC when asked why the state is not a part of it.
One lawmaker, having recently become aware of the Driver License Compact, is now drafting legislation by which Wisconsin could join. The bill has received a measure of bipartisan support, but it is still in the early stages. There is, as yet, no timetable for when Wisconsin could join the DLC if the legislation passes.
In the meantime, individuals facing charges related to drunk driving have the right to a defense and may find it helpful to talk to an attorney.