01 August 2009

Glenn Grothman: chasing drunk drivers? Finally.

Hi everyone,

A terribly sad story about a death caused by a drunk driver.

Grieving parents pushing to change blood-alcohol testing laws - JSOnline

The blood test was given three hours later but there may have been some procedural goofs that could have the evidence thrown out. The terrible consequences of protecting the innocent sometimes can protect the guilty, but that's the price we pay for freedom.. or, in this case, that the family in question is paying.

The real problem, of course, are the insane drunk driving laws in Wisconsin that let a first offense off with a $726 fine and ... and no felony conviction.

Anyway, at some point here in the Journal story Glenn makes an appearance as a sympathetic ear.

They've found a sympathetic ear in state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who said he's prepared to introduce a bill that could require a blood test of any driver in a fatal crash. Now, a test can be required only if there is probable cause to believe alcohol is involved - such as when a driver fails initial field sobriety tests.

"It seems strange that you can't demand a blood test when someone has done something so horrific," he said. The difference in this case, he noted, would be a homicide charge that carries a 25-year prison sentence or a traffic ticket for running a stop sign that carries a few-hundred-dollar fine.

"Given the dramatic difference, the government certainly has an interest in seeing which one of these it should be," he said.

Grothman said he's asked the attorney general to review his bill, one that could reasonably raise constitutionality questions. As tentatively drafted, Grothman's bill would not impose a mandatory blood test on drivers in non-fatal injury accidents unless there is probable cause to suspect alcohol was involved, he said.

The state's current "implied consent" law for anyone who gets behind the wheel imposes penalties on drivers who refuse a blood-alcohol test, Martens said, but he noted that probable cause for the test also is required.

Grothman would like to see the bill added to a proposed revamping of the state's drunken-driving laws - revisions that have been demanded by a public tired of the highway slaughter from impaired drivers, many of them multiple offenders.

At long last although, I hate to say it, the cynic in me imagines that in other circumstances Glenn would simply call this "yet more government trashing of our individual rights." If this guy had been hunting and shot someone, and we'd asked for a blood test to see if he was high or drunk, I have to imagine Glenn rushing to the guilty party's defense and trashing the socialist anti-hunting conspiracy.

I'd be thrilled to be wrong about that. I have a column coming up on Driving while Cell Phoning... which we now discover is about as bad as driving while drunk.

And so on.

Regardless, remember to light a candle for our neighbors in Farmington who've suffered this horrible, needless, loss.