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

RHINELANDER - This year seems to be off to a good start for the housing market here in Wisconsin.

A new report shows the first half of 2016 was the strongest since before the Great Recession of 2008.

+ Read More

MADISON - Two girls accused of trying to kill a classmate in an attempt to please the fictional horror character Slender Man will remain in adult court for now.

TAKE VO

Slender Man Case / Still in adult court

The 2nd District Appeals court today went along with a lower court's decision that it was reasonable to try both girls as adults.

The girls could appeal the rulings to the state Supreme Court.

The girls were 12 years old in 2014 when the stabbing happened.

Authorities say, they lured their classmate into woods in Waukesha after a birthday sleepover and repeatedly stabbed her.

The victim, who was also 12, was found along a road, bleeding from wounds that nearly killed her.

+ Read More

FLORENCE COUNTY - A UTV crash killed a man in Florence County.

The sheriff's department tells us 68 year old James Marquardt of Long Lake died in the crash over the weekend.

Marquardt had been riding west on Grandma Lake Road in Long Lake Township.

The UTV went out of control after Marquardt hit the brakes.

It skidded sideways, left the road and hit a tree.

Deputies think Marquardt may have been going too fast.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - A judge upholds the firing of the Milwaukee police officer who killed Dontre Hamilton.

Former officer Christopher Manney was fired for his actions leading up to Hamilton's 2014 shooting, but not for the shooting itself.

Manney appealed his firing in court after losing his first appeal before the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.

A judge found Manney was fired for violating department rules...and that his decision to frisk Hamilton escalated a routine police encounter into a catastrophe.

Hamilton was shot 14 times after Manney responded to a complaint of a man sleeping in a park.

Manney said he was attacked and he opened fire in self-defense.

The former officer was never charged in the shooting.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - When people found Josephine the beagle in Forest County earlier this year, she barely clung to life. Now, a young Langlade County girl will work hard to help save Josie.

+ Read More

Play Video

IRON COUNTY - Mud, debris, and damaged property still cover parts of northern Iron County after a storm ripped through there more than two weeks ago.

The lack of money for repairs is keeping the rebuilding effort from getting started in certain areas.

That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency came to Iron County Tuesday.

The agency intervened due to the severity of the damage  and the expected high cost of fixing it.

+ Read More

PHILADELPHIA - Hillary Clinton claimed the Democratic presidential nomination after rival Bernie Sanders asked delegates at the party's national convention to nominate her by acclamation.

It was a dramatic end to the roll call of states.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here