JANUARY 15, 2009
A Wisconsin lawmaker assigned this year to chair a powerful state committee has been charged with his third drunken driving offense as well drug possession.
Independent Representative Jeffrey Wood, a former Republican, got busted by a state trooper who caught the intoxicated legislator urinating next to his crashed car on the side of a busy interstate. Wood had smashed into a post and snow bank before getting back on the road. Marijuana was also found in his vehicle.
Wood has a documented history of drinking and driving. He was convicted of drunken driving in 1990 and 1991 and had his license suspended for eight months then revoked for 18 months. A third drunken driving offense carries jail time, between 30 days and a year, as well as the loss of a driver’s license for up to three years.
Despite Wood’s previous convictions and lawbreaking history, Wisconsin’s Democrat Assembly Speaker assigned him to a coveted committee chair post—Ways and Means Committee—for this legislative season. Wood resigned from the committee chairmanship after his latest criminal charge but refuses to leave his legislative seat.
Driving under the influence of alcohol evidently is not a big deal in the Badger State, which has the nation’s highest rate of drunken driving. A 2008 federal study revealed that nearly half of all fatal crashes in Wisconsin are alcohol related and that 42,000 residents were convicted of drunken driving in a year. One of them represents the state’s 67th Assembly District.
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