University of Wisconsin–Madison

Nina Emerson Poses DUI What-if in Journal Sentinel

In a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel piece, Nina Emerson, director of the Resource Center on Impaired Driving at the University of Wisconsin Law School, addresses a recent David Updike op-ed by posing the question:

What if Updike had faced drunken driving charges in Cambridge, Wisconsin instead of Cambridge, Massachusetts?

In reality, Updike blew a “point 08,” the lowest measurable illegal amount of blood-alcohol content in Cambridge, MA. He was arrested and convicted, paid numerous fees and was ordered to attend alcohol rehabilitation courses. He also had his license suspended and saw his insurance premium more than double.

In Emerson’s Cambridge, WI scenario, the laws surrounding drunken driving are plainly looser: Updike, Emerson notes, would not lose his license but would receive a “Notice of Intent to Suspend,” allowing him to legally drive for 30 days; in the meantime, he could apply for an occupational license at any time for $40. He would not see jail time, be arraigned or be required to appear in court. As for consequences, Updike would likely have to attend a six-week Group Dynamics Class. His insurance rates would go up, but he wouldn’t be considered a high-risk driver.

Underlying Emerson’s point is the fact that in Cambridge, WI, drunken driving is considered a traffic violation, whereas in Cambridge, MA, it is considered a crime. Maybe, Emerson says, we need to change that.

To read Nina Emerson’s Journal Sentinel piece, “And if he had been in Cambridge, Wis.?” click here.

To read David Updike’s Journal Sentinel piece, “Flashing blue lights and new appreciation,” click here.

Submitted by UW Law News on March 24, 2011

This article appears in the categories: In the Media

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