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State attorney general candidates debate heroin, OWI in Wisconsin Dells

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) -- Heroin is Wisconsin's top public safety issue. That's what all four candidates for state attorney general said yesterday, during a debate in Wisconsin Dells put on by the state's top police union.

They disagreed on whether first-time drunk driving should be a criminal offense instead of an expensive citation. Wisconsin is the only state in the country where first-time O-W-I is not a crime.

Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, the only Republican in the race, said the state has not criminalized first-time drunk driving because it would cost a lot to jail those offenders -- and there's no proof that it would make a difference.

Dane County D-A Ismael Ozanne, one of three Democrats running for attorney general, favors criminal action for first-time O-W-I.

Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Jon Richards said he supports both a criminal offense, and an expanded use of interlock devices in which offenders must breathe into sobriety tubes to start their vehicles.

The third Democrat, Jefferson D-A Susan Happ, said she believes first-time drunk drivers deserve the benefit of learning from their mistakes if they don't hurt or kill somebody in the process.