Loading

70°F

73°F

72°F

70°F

72°F

72°F

72°F

75°F

72°F

68°F

75°F

72°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

RHINELANDER - After all the 4th of July events Saturday, people definitely got hungry. People were able to stop at the Oneida County Senior Center's fundraiser for a bite to eat.

The senior center sold walking tacos, drinks, and desserts for people to eat in or take out. It was the second year the center held the event.

"We have an assembly line right on the kitchen counter there with whatever people want on them," said Oneida County Senior Center Activities and Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Schroeder. "I thank everyone for stopping in. We really appreciate it."

The center hoped 200 people came out. They wanted to raise about $1,000. All the money was for a good cause.

+ Read More

LINCOLN COUNTY - Imagine cleaning out an old garage and finding a hand grenade.

It happened in Lincoln County.

A call came in to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

+ Read More

WESTERN WISCONSIN - Heavy rain is causing problems in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The National Weather Service reports the Kinnickinnic River near River Falls, Wisconsin has risen about 5 feet after 5 to 7 inches of rain there early Monday.

+ Read More

MADISON - The Milwaukee Bucks' president is trying to persuade Wisconsin lawmakers to devote $250 million in tax dollars to a new arena.

Peter Feigin (FAY'gan) told the Legislature's budget committee Monday that the arena would be an economic boon.

+ Read More

MADISON - A Wisconsin prison guard has served a one-day suspension for a joke he posted on Facebook about President Barack Obama and lynching.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - A fire in Eagle River severely damaged a garage on McKinley Boulevard early Sunday morning.

The Eagle River Fire Department said the fire started in the garage just after midnight Sunday morning.

+ Read More

PHELPS - One person died after their car caught fire in Phelps early Sunday morning.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office got a call around 1:00 a.m. Sunday reporting a car on fire in the ditch alongside Highway 17 in Phelps. 



+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here