Under the Influence
Wisconsin has an epidemic on its hands. We have a culture that turns a blind eye to people binge drinking. We have weak drinking and driving laws that allow these people to get behind the wheel while intoxicated again and again. As a result we have innocent victims and their families' lives being destroyed in one drunk driving accident after another. The time has come for change! The status quo is no longer acceptable. In "Under the Influence" we will explore Wisconsin's deeply ingrained drinking culture, shine the light on those who are putting the rest of us in danger, and hold your elected officials responsible for passing the legislation that would save lives.
Wisconsin's repeat offenders exemplify the problems with drinking in our state. For a gallery of the worst of the worse, click here.
- Wisconsin is the only state in the nation where first time drunk driving is not a crime.
- Drunk driving in Wisconsin is not a felony until the 4th offense in Wisconsin.
- In 2010, 29549 drivers were cited for driving under the influence.
- Wisconsin has led the nation in binge drinking every year since 1995.
- Wisconsin has had the highest percentage of drinkers of any state since 1995.
- In the last ten years more than 2000 people have died on Wisconsin roads from alcohol related crashes.
- Wisconsinites are more likely to drive drunk than drivers in any other state.
- Wisconsin law bans sobriety checkpoints, a practice common in most states.
- There are 5000 liquor license holders in Wisconsin, the most per capita of any state.
- 34% of Wisconsinites between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking alcohol in the last month.
- 24% of Wisconsinites between the ages of 12 and 20 reported binge drinking alcohol in the last month.
- 7.4% of Wisconsinites say they are heavy drinkers (means men consume more than two drinks per days, women consume more than one drink per day).
About the legislation
To combat the outrageous culture of drinking in Wisconsin, State Senator Alberta Darling and State Representative Jim Ott have purposed legislation that, if passed, would have the following effects:
- If a driver has a BAC of 0.15 during their first offense, it would be considered a crime instead of a traffic offense. Currently, the first arrest is only considered a crime if a child younger than 16 is in the car.
- A third OWI conviction would be a felony, instead of the fourth.
- The state would be allowed to create sobriety checkpoints, which it is currently not allowed to do.
- The state would create a treatment program for repeat offender to help them through their alcohol addiction.
For more information on possible changes, click here.
Under the Influence Podcasts
About the issue
Click here for information about drunk driving from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Contact your representative
Want to help us make a change? Contact your elected representative to let them know you're interested in seeing this legislation pass. Click here for information on how to do that.
Wasted in Wisconsin
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigated the culture of drinking in Wisconsin and its repercussions in their series "Wasted in Wisconsin." To see that series, click here.