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Officials vote to let people arrested for drunken driving keep their license cards

A state committee has voted to let those arrested for drunken driving keep their license cards for identification only.

Right now, police confiscate the licenses of those who fail sobriety tests, or refuse to take them.

But some lawmakers say it's too harsh of a punishment, because drivers lose the IDs they need to cash checks, buy cold medicines, and board airplanes.

Wednesday, the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 10-4 to let suspected OWI offenders keep their licenses, while still having their driving privileges suspended.

Republicans cast all the no votes.

Racine's Robin Vos says it makes a drunken driver's punishment less severe and it's sending the wrong message at a time when people are demanding tougher OWI laws.

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, says the police will still know if people are driving illegally when they stop them.

The bill allows judges to make drivers surrender their license cards if they believe it's necessary.

Also Wednesday, the finance panel delayed action on the proposed drunken driving reform package because a disagreement remains over how to pay for it. A Senate panel has endorsed a higher liquor tax, but Assembly leaders are against that.