Although Rep. Jeff Wood clearly has substance abuse problems that prevent him from serving as a competent member of the State Legislature, his statement in response to the new OWI law, which he voted in favor of, was considerably better than that of many of the (supposedly) non-drunken state legislators:
After ducking reporters — including possibly going out a window to avoid those waiting outside his Capitol office — Wood issued a statement saying he supported the bill due to its mandates on ignition interlocks and because of its expansion of Winnebago County’s Safe Streets program, which he argues will reduce recidivism.
“I have learned first hand how difficult it is to combat this disease,” Wood said in a statement, noting he has had to take out a personal loan to cover his stay at an inpatient treatment facility.
“Unfortunately, for most people, obtaining the treatment they require is out of reach due to financial constraints,” Wood said. “I hope Wisconsin continues to look at helping people treat the disease instead of addressing the punishment alone.”
As I’ve argued repeatedly, tougher penalties for the worst repeat offenders, such as Wood, is not the key to getting drunk drivers off the road. For those people, the vast majority of whom are alcoholics, treatment is the only realistic deterrent to future reckless behavior. Tougher enforcement and stiffer penalties for first offenders would make a bigger difference.It would discourage the many people who figure they’re not going to get caught to think again, and it would perhaps further stigmatize drunk driving in a state where many people drive somewhat drunk on a regular basis and think nothing of it.