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Wisconsin task force on drunk driving loses members


Mandates from the federal government often force states like Wisconsin to comply with regulations in order to receive funding. In many cases the federal mandates have to do with improving the quality of life for residents of the particular state or reducing particular forms of allegedly detrimental behavior. Drunk driving has been targeted by the federal government as a behavior that requires state-level attention.

As a result of a mandate Wisconsin formed the Statewide Impaired Driving Task Force in 2013. The task force is made up of medical professionals, special interests and other entities. It is charged with reducing instances of drunk driving across the state through various initiatives and programs.

Recently four members of the task force resigned out of frustration over the effectiveness of the group's practices. The four members all possess medical backgrounds and claim that the task force has too greatly involved the alcohol industry and tavern lobby in its program planning. They also claim that some of the planned initiatives will have little effect on Wisconsin's drunk driving problem.

The lack of confidence these task force members have demonstrated toward the state's commitment to curbing drunk driving highlights many of the problems Wisconsin residents face when they are charged with crimes related to DUI. Such individuals find themselves facing serious potential consequences for allegedly violating laws that straddle multiple competing governmental interests. They face the loss of rights for allegedly engaging in behaviors the state potentially condones through catering to alcohol special interests.

As the state attempts to bring these four task force members back on board it may be scrutinized by the federal government. Federal mandates are serious requirements for states to follow. Wisconsin will have to resolve this matter in the greater picture of its overall drunk driving policy.

Source: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "Four Wisconsin OWI task force members quit," Patrick Marley and Dana Ferguson, June 5, 2014

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