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Lawmaker charged with third OWI

Rep. Jeff Wood, I-Bloomer. Photo courtesy Columbia County Jail

Rep. Jeff Wood was charged Tuesday with his third drunken-driving offense in his Dec. 12 arrest near Portage.

The independent from Bloomer was also charged with possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia and Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey says she may still file civil counts of public urination, and failing to stay at an accident scene.

Wood is due in court Feb. 4.

The 39-year-old Wood recently said he changed his mind about not getting an attorney, but online court records do not list one.

Wood said he was drinking with friends in Madison and then left for home. A witness said his car hit a road sign and a snow bank and went 5 feet in the air on Interstate-90-94.

A state trooper said he saw Wood urinating when he pulled up to the car, which by then had a flat tire. Wood reportedly said he damaged the vehicle while parking.

The trooper also said he smelled marijuana in the car, and later found $35 worth of the drug.

Wood resigned from a committee chairmanship upon his arrest, but he rejected calls to resign.

The Legislature will consider several measures to fight drunken driving this session, including one to make three-time OWI a felony. That's the same offense Wood was charged with, although the measure was in the works before his arrest.

Wood was elected to the Assembly as a Republican in 2002, but he quit the party last year, saying it strayed from its mission of limited government and lower taxes.

Wood put the GOP in a bind by pulling out on the final day candidates qualified for the ballot. The party found a candidate anyway, and Wood narrowly defeated him in November.

The lawmaker represents the 67th Assembly District which includes much of Dunn and Chippewa counties, and portions of Barron County.