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Dems unveil plans to fight drunken driving

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Majority Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have unveiled their own plan to fight drunken driving.

A felony charge would be filed on a person's third offense if it's within five years of the second.

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Otherwise, the felony rap wouldn't kick in until the fourth arrest.

Two- and three-time OWI offenders would have to breathe into ignition interlocks to start their vehicles.

And those same people could get lesser jail time if they complete treatments for alcohol and other drugs.

Wauwatosa Democrat Jim Sullivan says punishment is not enough.

He's a main sponsor of the new bill, along with Senate Democrats John Lehman of Racine and Jeff Plale of South Milwaukee.

Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker says he'll sign on as a co-sponsor, thus giving the bill a better chance of passage.

Plale says it cracks down, while making sure a 22-year-old who makes a "bone-headed mistake" won't still be paying for it at age 70.

Decker opposed an earlier plan to make all third offenses a felony, saying the estimated $100 million price tag was too much.

He says the new approach will be more cost-effective.

Meanwhile, the Assembly is working on its own set of bills to fight drunken driving.

It became a more important issue at the Capitol after two major newspaper series last year spelled out the costs of OWI.

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