Crime

Wisconsin Students to Lawmakers-Drive Drunk, Resign

| by DeepDiveAdmin

A group of Wausau, Wisconsin students whose friend was killed by a drunk driver is asking lawmakers to sign a pledge -- if you are caught drunk driving, you will resign.

An email went out to all 132 state legislators and the governor on Wednesday, and within an hour, state Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer became the first to sign it.

Ziegelbauer, a former bar owner, said he rarely drinks -- and never drives when he does -- so making the pledge was not a difficult decision. "This is a serious issue and I don't mind encouraging (the students) in their work," Ziegelbauer said.

14-year-old Lacey Meinel was killed by a drunken driver in January. Her killer was sentenced last week to five years in prison.

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"We're going to try our hardest to get as many officials to work with us and accept the fact that drunk driving isn't taken lightly in Wisconsin anymore," said Kristen Churkey, a close friend of Lacey's who is helping organize the pledge effort.

The Wausau area has been the scene of several high profile OWI (Operating While Intoxicated, as it is called in Wisconsin) arrests in recent weeks. State Rep. Jeff Wood, Wausau City Council member Tom Miller; and Bayfield Police Chief Ellis Casper all were arrested on charges of drunken driving.

Wood has actually been arrested three times in the past 10 months for OWI. An assembly panel is looking into whether to kick Wood out of the legislature.

The students are giving lawmakers until Dec. 1 to return the pledge. They plan to make public the names of those who don't sign.

The group also is sending around a similar pledge to students. Sophomore Lexi Zuleger said it's important that Lacey's death is not forgotten.

"I think it shows not only the state Capitol but everyone in Wisconsin that we will not stop until something is done, because we have such a hard time dealing with Lacey's death," she said. "We need to get something done for our comfort and for our healing to come to an end."