In Wood County, Wisconsin, the rules used to state that someone who had been picked up for drunk driving had to stay behind bars for at least 12 hours. Obviously, it could be longer if there were other charges, but simple DUI arrests meant 12 hours in jail to sober up.
Not anymore. Now, police are able to let drivers go before the 12-hour mark if they have a responsible adult who can take care of them.
For example, a 21-year-old college student who was picked up on DUI charges could be released to his or her parents.
Some say that the change is a good one, as it opens up jail space and may help save money. Others argue that these drivers need more time behind bars and are putting others in danger if they get out early.
The sheriff did explain it by pointing out that the people being released had simply been accused and arrested, not convicted. People who will eventually be cleared in court are arrested for DUIs all of the time, and it's dangerous to assume they're guilty. Legally speaking, everyone has the right to be presumed innocent unless the court shows otherwise.
On top of the money they'll save, they just don't have the space. One jail, which is only supposed to hold between 109 and 115 inmates -- at most -- was holding a full 207. Officials felt they just couldn't keep that many people behind bars.
If you are ever arrested on DUI charges, it's very important to know about this new policy, along with all of your basic legal defense options.
Source: Daily Tribune, "To free up jail space, Wood County loosens policy on drunken drivers," Karen Madden, July 03, 2017