Loading

62°F

60°F

63°F

60°F

61°F

62°F

63°F

65°F

61°F

59°F

65°F

63°F
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander Police officer and lawmakers work on fighting huffing and drivingSubmitted: 03/01/2013
Story By Lane Kimble


RHINELANDER - It can kill you the first time you try it, but kids and adults seem to be doing it anyway. Inhaling aerosol sprays for a simple high. It's called huffing. But it wasn't illegal in Wisconsin until 2005.

"Having a legal thing that people can do made it more appealing that you can just go to the store and get chemical sprays and dusters and get high off that and not face any consequences," Rhinelander Police Sgt. Kurt Helke said. "At least now there's a consequence to that."

Helke helped lead the charge seven years ago to make huffing a crime. Now it's a class A misdemeanor. But his fight is far from over.

About a month ago, a Rhinelander driver named Matthew Taulbut crashed his car into the curb here, on Baird and Dahl streets near the county courthouse. Police found him slumped over the wheel with aerosol cans in his lap.

But ironically enough, Taulbut, who crashed just a block from where the law is upheld, couldn't be charged criminally with his 4th OWI. Huffing isn't defined as an intoxicant. At least not yet.

State Representative Rob Swearingen is a co-sponsor of this bill making its way around the Capitol. Sergeant Helke contacted him and other lawmakers with hopes of amending the drunk driving laws.

"Essentially what we're going to do is open up the word intoxicant and include the word inhalant, like huffing, and include that so that police actually have some teeth when they try to enforce the law," Swearingen said.

Lawmakers from both sides are coming together to draft the bill. The next stop will be in a legislative committee before heading to a hearing. Swearingen thinks the process should be smooth.

"It's highly likely, depending on any opposition, and I don't know why anyone would oppose this, but pending any opposition, something like this is good, common sense legislation," Swearingen said.

That's good news for Sgt. Helke and police everywhere.

"Unfortunately in most places, they aren't aware or there isn't anything spurned until somebody dies," Helke said. "And we don't want to wait until somebody dies until the awareness is risen."

Awareness and a law, that should make the roads safer.

"I think this is a simple fix, I don't think it's a big deal, but it's something that should get done, needs to get done so they can do their job," Swearingen said.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

MADISON - A new analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau says a Republican-approved expansion of the private-school voucher program could cost up to $800 million over the next decade.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The Northwoods can be a good place for an artist to settle and develop his or her craft.

A fourth-generation craftsman from Eagle River now creates beautiful pieces of furniture on land that his grandfather bought.

Carl Gromoll of Gromoll Woodworks planned to go into medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but the Vietnam War protests at UW changed his thinking.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Tree research in Rhinelander may help improve ground pollution around the world. Scientists at the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station want to use trees to clean the soil using a process called phytoremediation.

+ Read More

MERRILL - A Rhinelander man went to the hospital after his motorcycle hit a deer near Merrill Wednesday night.

Lincoln County deputies tell us a call came in just before nine Wednesday night.

The caller did not provide the exact location of the accident but believed they were on State Highway 107.

+ Read More

MADISON - Researchers hope to improve panfish populations by limiting the harvest.

Now, the project has a green light on close to 100 lakes.

The state natural resources board approved going ahead with changes in bag limits yesterday.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Hundreds of unique cars will line the streets of downtown Rhinelander soon for the Second Saturday in June car show.

The show's organizers say the event has grown every year. This year, they've added more trophy classes, allowing contestants to compete in more unique categories.

Organizers expect a lot of people to come and look at the cars.

+ Read More

MADISON - Wisconsin may be the first state in the country to certify teachers who don't have bachelor's degrees under a provision put in the state budget last week.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here