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Might Wisconsin Be Well-Served With Place-Of-Last-Drink Data To Combat Drunk Driving?

January 2, 2017

The news media have reported for days on the new drunk driving penalties which took effect January 1st.  Even so, Wisconsin still has the weakest laws on the books for first offenders.  It seems a day never goes by without another report of drunk driving serving as a reminder of the immense problem we face.  As such, throughout the state serious-minded people are pondering how to better address this social illness.

The Brown County Board of Supervisors shortly before Christmas agreed to ask the state legislature to allow judges to order the seizure of vehicles driven by drunk drivers.   While the idea can be debated from both sides people know what we have done thus far to curb the problem is simply not working.  More creative ideas need to be considered, and possibly passed into law to stop drunk driving.

I have long argued that if bar owners and their servers were half as interested in what they poured into the streets at the end of the night as they were over what was poured into the glass of a patron we all would be better off.

With that in mind it seems another useful tool in our efforts to limit drunk drivers would be to know which bars are named as the last place-of-drink prior to being pulled over by police for an OWI.   It would be useful to know upon conviction which bars over-served a customer.  It goes without saying that a bar which is named a certain number of times by those convicted should be sanctioned in some way.

While some drunk drivers might not tell the truth for a variety of reasons about their last place of drinking it should be noted a bar that is named over and over does not get to the top of a list without cause.  And from there it seems local law enforcement could use patrol efforts to target the roads around the bar and work to prevent drunk driving.

While I can see the Wisconsin Tavern League fuming over this idea the fact remains a more concerted effort needs to be made so owners of drinking establishments are made more responsible for what is happening on our roads.  Perhaps some heightened awareness of bars who continue to serve intoxicated patrons might make a dent in drunk driving.  We can not do any worse for trying.

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