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Wisconsin Assembly OKs drunken driving bills (UPDATE)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Assembly has approved two bills that would stiffen drunken-driving penalties.

The first measure would require anyone arrested for a first offense to appear in court. Currently a first offense is a civil violation, not a criminal one, and people can skip their initial court appearances.

The bill also would eliminate provisions in state law that allow second offenses to be treated as civil violations rather than misdemeanors if the first offenses took place at least 10 years earlier. The second proposal would establish a minimum five-year sentence for anyone convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Republican Rep. Jim Ott was the author of both bills.

The Assembly passed both proposals on voice votes Thursday. The bills now go to the state Senate.

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