A closer look at Wisconsin's drunk driving laws

CREATED Aug. 19, 2013 - UPDATED: Aug. 19, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - They are some of the most lenient laws in the country. It takes five drunk driving arrests in Wisconsin before it's a felony. Two high-profile cases are shining a light on what some argue is a drunk driving epidemic.

Police say MSOE Dean of Students Patrick Coffey was driving drunk the wrong way down I-43. His blood alcohol was nearly 2 and a half times the legal limit. It was his third offense.

The second case: Police say former Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski was driving his car drunk along I-94. His blood alcohol was nearly 3 times the legal limit. It was his third offense.

So why are these guys still behind the wheel?

"Not only do you have multiple offense drunk drivers," explains Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Jeff Wagner. "But you also have incredible amounts of alcohol consumption. And there's no guarantee there's going to be any significant incarceration, people I think are just frustrated with that."

So, what's the hold up?

"What they say is if you make it a crime then more people are going to fight it, we're going to need more resources," says Wagner. "So prosecutors interestingly have opposed that. In addition, you've got some powerful special interest groups like the Tavern League."

The two men in these cases aren't talking. TODAY'S TMJ4's Annie Scholz left a message with Coffey, which hasn't been returned. And her visit to Graeme Zielinksi's house ended with a door closed in her face.

Eventually, they will have to answer in court to misdemeanor charges.