Wisconsin governor signs highway safety bills

| 6/26/2006

Gov. Jim Doyle has signed three bills into law intended to make Wisconsin’s roadways safer to drive. They are already in effect.

There were nearly 407,000 revocations and suspensions of driver’s licenses recorded in Wisconsin in 2005, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. In an effort to cut violations, one new law increases the maximum $500 fines and/or six months’ jail time imposed on people caught driving without a valid driver’s license.

Previously SB626, the new law allows for revoked or suspended drivers who cause damage to another person’s property to face $10,000 fines and/or nine months’ imprisonment. Those drivers who cause injuries while behind the wheel will face up to $10,000 fines and/or six years in prison. Drivers who cause someone’s death will face $25,000 fines and/or 10 years behind bars.

Another bill, previously SB611, signed into law allows law enforcement to test people involved in certain vehicle wrecks that result in serious injuries or death for the presence of alcohol or drugs.

Refusal to permit testing could result in arrest for “operating while intoxicated.”

One other new law, previously AB966, is intended to get tough with people who leave the scene of wrecks. In 2005, there were more than 13,000 hit-and-run crimes reported in Wisconsin.

The new rule makes the owner of a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run crash liable for the crash unless the vehicle was stolen or the owner provides law enforcement with information about the person driving the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Vehicle owners will be subject to fines of up to $1,000. No demerit points and suspension or revocation of driving privileges could be applied.