Solutions Needed For Drunk Driving In Wisconsin
This past weekend was another sad example of what can be found on our Dane County roads when drunk drivers feel no sense of responsibility or shame for their actions. As Channel 3000 reports, “In addition to the felony arrest, 13 other drivers were cited for Operating While Intoxicated over the weekend. At least three of those OWI’s were preceded by crashes.” One of those cited this weekend was going 88 mph in a 55 mph zone…while drunk! Aren’t we glad we were not on that same road at the time he was there?
Makes one feel that the roads we pay taxes to build and maintain can no longer be used unless we wish to take our chances with drunk drivers. But does it have to be this way? There is a growing segment of the citizenry that knows there has to be a reduction of drunk drivers on the roads, and they are urging their state elected officials to ante up with sound and workable legislation. As many have noted with alarm and disgust, there is something wrong with Wisconsin when we are the only state that has only a token ticket given out when the first offense of drunk driving occurs. A ticket?……..yes only a ticket.
After you think about that startling fact ask yourself a question. Why is that the case? Then look no further than the Wisconsin Tavern League, and the too-often spineless legislators who are bought and paid for with special-interest money for your answer.
Granted, I come at this issue with a desire to see society be more responsible in a broader sense by limiting the number of liquor licenses it grants, and fostering a healthier attitude that good times need not require intoxicating beverages. That in no way means I am eager to return to Prohibition, but I do suggest a more rational response to the way alcohol is consumed, as it would be a positive turn for our state.
I fully understand the issue of drunk driving is so pervasive and deadly that there needs to be more than just long-term attitude adjustments to stem the problems. For starters, I support two bills in the Wisconsin Legislature that are sure to draw fire from the Tavern League, but also are likely to draw public support if more voters became aware of them.
First, is a measure drafted by State Senator Neal Kedzie that lowers the legal blood-alcohol limit from 0.08% to 0.02% for someone convicted of two or more offenses. I might tighten that up to apply for anyone after a first offense, but given the nature and strength of the Wisconsin Tavern League, I can understand the way the bill is written. In addition this bill has two provisions that I very much approve of, and complement Kedzie for including in the proposed legislation. They include those convicted of drunken driving being prohibited from buying vehicles while their licenses are suspended or revoked, and those applying for occupational driver’s licenses would have to wait 15 days to get them.
The second bill that I support outright is requiring that people serving alcohol have none of it in their system. This bill is authored by Rep. Josh Zepnick, and though there will be plenty of folks opposed to this measure, I think it a correct one. I have long argued that those who own the bars, and pour the drinks, need to be held more accountable for their customers who leave with too much alcohol in their system. If a person pouring the drinks has a full sense of his/her surroundings they might be better able to determine who should, and should not, be buying another glass. There must be accountability by tavern owners for what they not only pour into a glass, but also pour out into the streets that then get behind a wheel.
There are those who will quibble about this and that within the bills that are hard-hitting, but the overall fact remains that drunk driving in Wisconsin must be reduced. And it must be dealt with now. Citizens around the state should call their elected representatives and voice their support for these bills.