GOP bill enhances sentences for fleeing police

NOW: GOP bill enhances sentences for fleeing police

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A bill Republican lawmakers began circling Thursday would enhance the maximum sentence for a number of charges related to fleeing police.

Each of the four charges addressed in the bill, fleeing an officer, fleeing/causing bodily harm, fleeing/causing great bodily harm and fleeing/causing death, are already considered felonies under state law. The bill would bump each of the charges into a more serious classification, which would bring a harsher maximum sentence:

  • Fleeing police would go from 3.5 years in prison to be six years
  • Causing bodily harm while fleeing would go from six years to 10 years
  • Causing great bodily harm while fleeing would go from 12.5 years to 15 years
  • Causing death while fleeing would go from 15 years to 25 years

State Rep. Bob Donovan took the lead on circulating the bill, and he was joined by three co-authors, State Rep. Ron Tusler and State Senators Dan Knodl and Rob Hutton.

Donovan did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment on the bill Thursday.

So far this year, Gov. Tony Evers has signed two bills that enhance the penalties for reckless driving.

In April, Evers signed a bill that allowed counties and municipalities to impound cars belonging to repeat reckless drivers who haven't paid their fines. The city of Milwaukee has since enacted an ordinance allowing police to impound cars in such scenarios.

In May, Evers signed a bill increasing the maximum fines for reckless driving offenses. That bill also increased the maximum sentence for causing great bodily harm in a reckless driving incident from 3.5 years in prison to six years. 

Safe & Sound, a community group dedicated to improving relationships between neighbors and police, launched a safe driving program this summer called 'Drive Wisdom.'

It's like driver's ed but with a twist. The six-week course touches on how one goes about getting auto insurance, and there's even a section dedicated to what a driver should do when they're getting pulled over.

"The first thing is that we want to make sure the relationship the youth that we work with with the police is a positive one," Donta Holmes, the group's director of programming, said in an interview.

Holmes said he agreed sentencing is part of the solution but added he'd like to see just as much support for efforts to teach and license young drivers.

"I do know things need to happen, especially when you're harming innocent people," Holmes said. "But at the same time, I think if we are putting more efforts into educating and offering programs that's going alleviate or keep these things from happening, that's a better answer."

Donovan is also a lead author on a bipartisan bill that would provide state grants that cover the cost of driver's education courses. A public hearing for that bill happened Wednesday at the state Capitol. 

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