Dylan Scott is a GOVERNING staff writer.E-mail: email@example.com
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation Thursday that increases the penalties for unlicensed drivers who are found guilty of causing great bodily harm or killing another person.
Under previous law, such offenses were a misdemeanor, according to a press release from the governor's office, punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to nine months in jail. The bill signed by Walker increased the crimes to felonies. Causing great bodily harm while knowingly driving without a license can result in being sentenced to a $10,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison. Killing another person could lead to a $10,000 fine and up to six years of incarceration.
Walker cited the examples of two individuals who had been killed in 2005 by unlicensed drivers, only to have the drivers receive a citation and no jail time, in signing the bill into law. The families of Kristy Wanek, who was 33 when she was killed in 2005, and Nicholas Dams, who was 20 when he was also killed in 2005, were instrumental in getting the law passed, Walker said.
“I cannot even fathom not having one of my boys," Walker said in a statement. "Our hope is people will think twice before getting behind the wheel if they don’t have a valid driver’s license.”