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Tougher penalties now from chronic drunken drivers

Tougher penalties are now in effect for Wisconsin's most chronic drunken drivers. The Legislature agreed earlier this year to stop giving the same sentences to those convicted of five or more OWIs.

Starting last Wednesday, judges can sentence seventh, eighth and ninth-time offenders to five years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

Those convicted 10 times or more can get up to 7 and one-half years behind bars, with five years of supervision.

Until now, everyone with five OWIs or more got three years in prison at the most, plus three years of supervision.

Portage Police Chief Ken Manthey says it's frustrating arresting those drivers, and innocent lives will be protected once they stay behind bars longer.

James Miller, Columbia County circuit judge, sees chronic drunken drivers "shockingly more than you think." He said those with seven OWIs probably won't change, and the new penalties will give him more to work with.