Wisconsin lawmakers approve bill to double reckless driving penalties

Both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature have passed a bill to double fines and forfeitures as well as lengthen sentences for reckless driving offenses.

Associated Press

April 19, 2023

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A perspective from the front window of a vehicle shows a divided street on a bridge, with other vehicles, street lights, trees and buildings in the background.

(Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

AP News

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Fines and forfeitures for reckless driving would double under a bipartisan bill that received final approval from the Wisconsin Senate on April 19.

The measure is part of a Republican-backed push to crack down on people driving dangerously across the state but particularly in Milwaukee, where Mayor Cavalier Johnson has called rising rates of reckless driving a crisis.

The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has voiced his support for the measure and other legislation creating harsher penalties for irresponsible driving and carjacking. Evers signed a bill into law earlier in April allowing local governments to impound unsafe drivers’ vehicles.

Under the bill — which the Senate approved in a 30-2 vote — fine and forfeiture ranges would increase to a maximum of $400 for a first offense and $1,000 for a subsequent offense.

The maximum fine for reckless driving that causes bodily harm would rise to $4,000. Reckless drivers who cause great bodily harm would face sentences of up to six years in prison, up from the current maximum of three-and-a-half years.

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