Loading

45°F

44°F

43°F

41°F

43°F

48°F

43°F

49°F

43°F

46°F

49°F

43°F
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

Play Video

VILAS COUNTY - Despite your votes to make Vilas County the "Best Cabin Region" in the country, the county fell short.

Cabin Life Magazine held the bracket-style contest. It started with 32 teams.

Vilas County beat out cabin regions in Minnesota, Michigan, and Colorado to make it to the finals.

The county squared off against Pinetop-Lakeside Arizona for the title of best cabin region.

+ Read More

Play Video

WISCONSIN - People in northcentral and northwest Wisconsin drive on the worst local roads in the state.

But money for road projects seems to be headed to southern Wisconsin more and more.

Three nonprofit groups in the state finished a study with those findings.

They say the trend breaks a deal in the state.

The groups say gas taxes and registration fees should go to support local roads.

+ Read More

BAYFIELD COUNTY - Authorities have recovered the body of a missing 77-year-old fisherman from a lake in northern Wisconsin.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A Milwaukee Public TV program came to Rhinelander last summer to profile the city.

Around the Corner with John McGivern will premier its episode on Rhinelander this week, but Rhinelander community members got the chance to see the episode before it airs.

Wisconsin Public Television hosted a premiere event Saturday night.

The show featured area businesses like Expera, Ponsse, and Foster and Smith.

It also showcased the community.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - It gave people of all ages a community focused event to enjoy.

It's something ArtStart hopes to do after each opening event. It also hopes to mix in different themes for the receptions.

"In the past we've always had earlier receptions and this year we thought we'd try something different and have after parties with dancing and open bar, and hopefully attract maybe a little younger crowd," said Organizer Melinda Childs.

+ Read More

TOMAH - Air Force veteran Jason Bishop says he has struggled in vain to find relief for his chronic pain at several Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals, including one in Tomah.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - That's why she organized a spring craft and vendor show in Merrill. The show was Saturday at Les and Jim's Lincoln Lanes.

About 45 vendors came for the event.

Event organizer Laura Bares became interested in craft shows through another skillset.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here