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Wisconsin's New Drunken Driving Penalties Begin Jan. 1

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Repeat drunken drivers will face tougher penalties in Wisconsin starting with the new year.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a law in April that makes a fourth drunken driving offense a felony regardless of when it's committed. Currently a fourth offense is a felony only if committed within five years of a third offense.

The law also increases the maximum sentence for fifth and sixth offenses from three years to five. Maximum sentences for seventh, eighth and ninth offenses will increase from five years to seven and a half. The maximum sentence for a 10th or subsequent offense will move from seven and a half years to a decade behind bars.

The measure goes into effect Jan. 1.

Wisconsin remains the only the state that doesn't criminalize a first offense, however.

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