Onalaska’s new fire chief is on paid administrative leave after being arrested Sunday morning for drunken driving.

Onalaska Fire Chief Billy D. Hayes

Onalaska Fire Chief Billy D. Hayes

Authorities stopped Fire Chief William D. Hayes, who was sworn in less than a year ago, for a speed violation and discovered he was driving under the influence of alcohol at 12:08 a.m., according to the police report.

Hayes was driving at about 40 mph in a 25-mph zone on Second Avenue North, according to the police report.

When police told Hayes why they stopped him, Hayes said, “Yeah, I’m the fire chief,” according to the complaint.

Police told him he was still required to obey the speed limit, according to the criminal complaint. Authorities then asked Hayes for proof of insurance.

Hayes told police, while searching for his insurance on his phone, that he was just with Jeffery Cavender, Onalaska’s assistant police chief, and had had a couple of beers, according to the police report.

Police asked Hayes if he had any other OWIs while handcuffing him. Hayes said no and proceeded to say, “You just ruined my career,” according to the police report.

“What I don’t understand is that I’m the fire chief and you’re going to do me this way,” Hayes said, while performing the field sobriety test, which he failed. Police said Hayes admitted to consuming alcohol and that the officer could smell intoxicants.

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Hayes was given a breath test at the Onalaska Police Department which gave a result of 0.13 percent, according to police.

The legal blood-alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or lower.

This is Hayes’ first OWI offense, according to the criminal complaint, and police issued three separate citations: operating while intoxicated (driving under the influence), operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration (driving under the influence) and exceeding speed zones, according to the complaint.

Onalaska Police Chief Troy Miller requested that the La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office take over the case “to ensure a fair and impartial proceeding for Mr. Hayes,” in a letter addressed to Tim Gruenke, La Crosse County’s district attorney.

“Chief Hayes has been placed on paid administrative leave by the mayor due to the incident on Saturday night/Sunday morning,” city administrator Eric Rindfleisch said.

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(10) comments


These local fire chiefs are disasters..


Just wait until your house is on fire, D-Bag. Then you'll want a truckload of these "disasters" to come a-runnin'.


Preferably not coming a running while drunk.


I'll break from my disregarding of your pathetic comments this one time: in the past week, one local fire chief was busted for a sex crime and another for drunken driving. Yet, you defend them. Seemingly only because they are public figures. Your socialist views are that blindly loyal. It's incredible.

Otis Berg

The good news is that the small house fire was put out quickly; the bad news is the drunk driver of the firetruck didn't stop it until it went through all the walls in your house .


Buuuut it is Tuesday. WKBT carried this the day it happened and no other news source did. Must be satellite delay?


Applications are being accepted by Onalaska.

Jack 155

Looks like he was looking for special treatment by telling the officer he is the Fire Chief and that he was just out drinking with the officer's Assistant Chief. Aren't we seeing plenty of people getting special treatment lately in the news because they have money or political connections? Good for the officer for doing his job. I wonder how the Assistant Chief got home since he was drinking with the Fire Chief.


Exactly. I'm sure the assistant police chief just LOVED the shout out too!


Poor Billy. But hey, at least he's still getting paid......

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