Cole L. Knapp, 34, of Wausau. Felony charges filed Aug. 30 include 9th offense OWI.

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A 34-year-old Wausau man is accused of his 9th drunken driving charge, after officers allegedly found him nearly passed out in the driver’s seat of his vehicle in a Rothschild parking lot, court records state.

Cole Knapp appeared Thursday in Marathon County Circuit Court on the felony charge. He was arrested late Wednesday in the parking lot at Domtar, 200 Grand Ave., Rothschild, less than a year after his release from prison on his 8th drunken driving conviction.

Dispatchers notified officers at 11:20 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 29 to a report of a green Chevrolet pickup “all over the road” that pulled into the Domtar lot, according to the police report. A Rothschild Police officer located a vehicle matching that description about 15 minutes later and discovered a man slumped over the steering wheel who appeared to be asleep, the report stated. The keys were in the ignition and an open bottle of Budweiser was spotted in the center console of the vehicle, police said.

The officer roused the driver, later identified as Knapp, by knocking on the window multiple times. After Knapp exited the vehicle, he appeared confused and could not explain where he lived or why he was in the Domtar parking lot, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly refused to undergo field sobriety tests, telling officers, “Yeah, I know I’m already (expletive),” according to the report.

Court documents state that an intoximeter recorded Knapp’s blood alcohol concentration as 0.15 percent, nearly eight times the limit imposed on him due to his eight prior convictions.

Knapp was previously convicted of drunken driving in 2002, 2003, 2004, twice in 2006, and once again in 2010 and in 2013, according to court records. In August 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison minus credit for time served while awaiting trial. He was released on extended supervision in November 2017 and did not have a valid driver’s license when he was arrested this week.

Knapp is being held on a $25,000 cash bond.

7 replies on “Wausau man arrested on 9th OWI charge”

  1. Talk about the poster boy for a completely FAILED system. What’s the solution? I wish I knew. He’s already done (what looks to be) a little over 4 yrs. of jail time, but let’s think about that. FOUR years for his 8th offense?? I honestly don’t know if WI has mandatory sentencing for 3rd offense on, but we certainly should. Think about how many times over those years that this guy has continuously been drinking and driving and how many people he could have killed. Luckily, he didn’t, but I truly believe that’s a miracle. He needs to be sentenced to at least 10 yrs of jail time with NO early release. I don’t want to hear about rehabilitation. He’s definitely had multiple chances for that. It’s time to put him away and lose the key for a minimum of 10 yrs. Tragic, but necessary.

  2. arrests and jail time don’t seem to be working, four years at the cost of between $32,000 and $40,000 is very expensive for a system that fails to work… maybe he needs serious rehab and living in a half-way house and an ankle bracelet so he can be monitored 24/7 365.

    1. NINTH offense and you say he needs “serious rehab”? That’s probably the understatement of the year, but he’s already been convicted EIGHT times. You don’t think “serious rehab” has already been offered or more likely mandated by this point? Yeah, it’s not cheap to house someone in jail for years these days, but I have a hard time believing more “serious rehab” and living in a (most likely) state funded half-way house would cost much if any less. More like time for SERIOUS lock up for 10+ yrs. The get out of jail free card has expired a LONG time ago for Mr. Knapp.

    2. A few years ago I spearheaded an extensive series on repeat OWI offenders in Wisconsin, when I was on the USA Today Wisconsin I-Team, and I learned a lot about this subject in the process. We looked at it from the point of view of offenders, psychologists, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, addiction specialists, and published about 12 stories about it, followed by a town hall panel discussion to talk about solutions. Prison isn’t always the answer and yes, it’s expensive – but rehab and an ankle bracelets cost money too, and rehab won’t help those who do not want to be helped. There’s a tendency in Wisconsin to treat OWI as something that isn’t criminal – Wisconsin is alone in that regard and in fact is the only state that treats a first offense as a traffic ticket, not a crime. It’s almost like being part of a club, being arrested for an OWI. And the attitude here is unlike anywhere else in the country. Employers balk all the time at hiring people convicted of crimes like theft or fraud, but they tend to be a whole lot more forgiving of OWI offenders, even repeat offenders. Obviously people make mistakes…you see that in first, second, even third time arrests. But at some point, that kind of behavior becomes criminal thinking. It goes well beyond making a mistake. And criminal behavior deserves criminal punishment. When you’re driving drunk, you’re not just putting yourself at risk. You’re driving a 2,000 pound weapon down the street that can kill innocent people.

      1. TIP works in reducing recidivism and cost about one fifth the cost (no pun intended) it keeps people, in the community, on the job, with their families and require treatment for addictions and mental illness… after eight attempts, enrollment in an alternative program would be a good program to consider… prior programs haven’t changed things… since I have friends who used to be alcoholics and they have two birthdays that they celebrate, the one most valued is when they became sober and have worked to maintain that sobriety… so we ramp up the program and supervision and change a life and save a life and make the world a safer and saner place… I have seen it work and I believe in treatment, sponsors, health care, and education… since it changes recidivism from 75% to 25%… that makes sense to me… for those that don’t respond, we increase the treatment and still can have jail time… if they commit other crimes, then those stand to be treated… but we need a system that works…
        “The prison population in Wisconsin has more than tripled since 1990. Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate in the country. Half of African American men in their 30s in Milwaukee County have been in state prison. Incarceration is expensive and comes with additional social costs. We can keep people out of prison:

        Increase funding for Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD). A 2012 study showed that by fully funding the state’s Treatment Alternatives and Diversions fund, Wisconsin could keep 3,000 people per year out of the state’s prisons, and more than 27,000 from ever going to jail.
        Reform Wisconsin’s sentencing laws. Inordinately long prison sentences do nothing to enhance safety, they are extremely costly, and they reduce the odds that the offender will be successfully re-integrated back into the community when she/he is released.
        Keep all 17 year-olds in the juvenile system.”

  3. People who are a clear and present danger to the general population cannot be rehabilitated. This being the case they need to be locked up to keep the rest of use safe.

  4. how is this even possible …how is this man not in prison for life at this point. Clearly he is a danger to everyone around him. How many does it take to get prison time in wisconsin?

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