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Assembly OKs tougher sentences for repeat drunken drivers

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Repeat drunken drivers would spend more time behind bars under a bill the state Assembly passed overwhelmingly on Tuesday.

The Republican-sponsored proposal would increase the minimum mandatory sentence for fifth and sixth offenses from six months to 18 months. Judges could hand down shorter sentences if they found such a decision would be in the public interest.

The state Department of Corrections has estimated the bill would give the state $13.6 million in additional operating costs annually. Still, the bill has drawn support from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association. The Wisconsin Tavern League has registered as neutral on the proposal.

The Assembly passed the proposal 88-10 Tuesday evening. The Senate passed it on a voice vote in November. It goes next to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who can sign it into law or veto it. The governor’s spokeswoman didn’t return a message asking whether he supports the measure. He campaigned on the promise of cutting Wisconsin’s prison population in half.

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