Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Rhinelander Police officer and lawmakers work on fighting huffing and drivingSubmitted: 03/01/2013

Lane Kimble
Managing Editor/Anchor
lkimble@wjfw.com


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

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Most New Year's resolutions start with the best of intentions, but sticking with them can sometimes be easier said than done.

+ Read More

MINOCQUA AND LAC DU FLAMBEAU - More than 20 burglaries in the Lakeland area puzzled police and troubled neighbors, but on Friday police told us they think they know who might be responsible.

+ Read More
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 02/05/2016

- Tonight on Friday Night Blitz we will bring you scores from high school games all across North Central Wisconsin as well as highlights from the following boys basketball games:

D.C. Everest vs. Wausau West

Antigo vs. Mosinee

Rhinelander vs. Tomahawk

Marshfield vs. Merrill

That will be tonight on Friday Night Blitz at the end of Newswatch 12 at 10.

We'll have this and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

MANITOWOC - Police in Manitowoc say a man fatally shot at his home was apparently targeted by his assailant.

In a news release Friday, police Capt. Larry Zimney says no one is in custody, but the public is not believed to be in any danger.

+ Read More

Play Video

PARK FALLS - Volunteers at Catkins Animal Rescue in Park Falls work holidays, early mornings, and countless hours.

But they say the hard work is worth it. 

"We call it volunteering, but it's basically you're an unpaid employee," said Catkins Animal Rescue Director Laura Stroud.

+ Read More

Play Video

THREE LAKES - With a half day of classes, students in Three Lakes found plenty to cheer about Friday morning.  But the limited hours and extended weekend weren't the only reasons for excitement.

Twenty-two speakers from nearly two dozen professions presented at the school's fourth career day—the first one held in two years.

"Last year we didn't do it and kids were mad," Principal Gene Welhoefer said.  "So that was a good sign we needed to bring it back."

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Many people struggle with their weight. But Marshfield Clinic believes its HMR Weight Management Program can help give people the tools it needs to get healthy.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here