Wisconsin panel OKs drunken driving appearances

The Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison is seen, Jan. 14, 2014.
The Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison is seen, Jan. 14, 2014.

MADISON (AP) – The state Senate’s public safety committee has approved a bill that would require all first-time drunken driving offenders to appear in court.

First-offense drunken driving in Wisconsin is a civil violation akin to a speeding ticket. Offenders can pay their fines without appearing in court.

Republican Rep. Jim Ott’s bill would mandate court appearances for first-time offenders. Any offenders who fail to show up would be found guilty, be subject to arrest and face an additional $300 surcharge on top of their drunken driving fine.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote in November. The Senate panel approved the measure unanimously Thursday, clearing the way for a vote in the full Senate.

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