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Wisconsin residents, lawmakers consider drunk driving options

The discussion on how to manage drinking and driving in Wisconsin will likely never end because people will never stop enjoying alcoholic drinks, nor will they willingly give up their personal vehicles. In light of the fact that drunk driving is a perceived problem that will most likely never disappear, citizens and lawmakers recently met in a public hearing in Madison to continue the dialogue on how to address the situation.

While some present at the hearing mentioned increasing penalties for drunk driving convictions, others countered that harsh penalties will only deter drunk drivers if those drivers believe that they will actually be caught. Another perspective noted that current policies related to ignition locks have been somewhat unsuccessful at deterring drunk driving because some people who are required to have them simply cannot afford to purchase them for their cars. Ignition locks require a person to blow into a blood alcohol concentration reader before a car can be started. If the person blows below the state's legal limit, the car should be operable.

Another set of ideas discussed focused on whether Wisconsin police should be allowed to set up sobriety checkpoints where drivers must submit to sobriety or blood alcohol testing when they pass through intersections where police have established a checkpoint. A representative for a special interest group suggested that roving patrols of officers rather than stationary checkpoints might be more effective for catching intoxicated and unsafe drivers.

It is likely that the debate will rage on into the next state legislative session. Though individuals have the right to engage in the social behaviors that they enjoy, the state will continue to work toward making its roadways safer by targeting individuals who drink and driver.

Source: Superior Telegram, "How do you prevent drunk driving? Policymakers ad public weigh options," Sharmane Mills, August 8, 2013

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