Loading

79°F

76°F

80°F

79°F

76°F

80°F

77°F

79°F

77°F

77°F

80°F

81°F
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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 08/31/2015

- We'll take a closer look at the fall webworm, a native insect which creates balls of webs on Northwoods trees this time of year.

- Is tanning for minors a good idea? A proposed state law would ban it. We have local reaction.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

ONEIDA COUNTY - The Oneida County Humane Society needs a lot of money to take care of all the animals in its care.

The shelter relies on fundraisers to help raise that money.

One of the shelter's biggest fundraiser is its Jog for the Dogs event. The run is scheduled for Saturday September 12th this year.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The first-ever ATV & UTV Side by Side World Championship Derby finished up Sunday afternoon. 

Races started on Saturday and continued through the weekend. 

Spectators, racers and event staff all say they were pleased with how the event turned out.

+ Read More

GREEN BAY - Children across Wisconsin will be back in school soon.

People driving are asked to watch out for kids boarding or exiting school buses.

+ Read More

MADISON - Scott Walker's presidential campaign spokeswoman says the Wisconsin governor is not advocating for building a wall separating Canada and the United States.

Walker spokeswoman AshLee Strong said Monday that Walker's comments on the issue had been misinterpreted.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - The mayor of Milwaukee is proposing equipping all of the city's police officers on the street with body cameras by the end of next year.

Mayor Tom Barrett on Sunday announced the plan, first reported by the Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1JqBjAX ). The proposal comes after tense episodes between police and Milwaukee's African-American community.

+ Read More

ST. LOUIS - The attorney for convicted killer Roderick Nunley has filed a new appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to halt his execution.

Nunley is scheduled to die Tuesday evening for killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1989. The girl was abducted while waiting for a school bus, then raped and stabbed to death.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here