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New law increases penalties for repeat drunken drivers

Tougher penalties lie in wait for repeat drunk drivers.

The new law increases the maximum penalties for drivers convicted of seven or more offenses of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs goes into effect.

Under the old law, all offenses over five carried a maximum of a $10,000 fine and six-year sentence with three in confinement. The new law creates another tier of penalties. People convicted of seventh, eighth or ninth offenses face a $25,000 fine and five years in prison and five years extended supervision. A person convicted 10 or more times face a maximum penalty of a $25,000 fine and 71?z2 years in prison and five years extended supervision.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 184 Wisconsin drivers were convicted in 2007 of a seventh, eighth or ninth offense, and 12 drivers were convicted for their 10th or greater offense.

The new law also increases the surcharge for all drunk driving convictions from $355 to $365. The county where the conviction occurred will receive $219 of the surcharge. The state will get $146 with $14 of the state's share going to the Safe Ride Program, sponsored by the Tavern League of Wisconsin.