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Is ridesharing the answer to fixing drunk driving in Wisconsin?

Ridesharing is a relatively new phenomenon that is currently happening in large cities throughout the United States as well as right here in Wisconsin. To rideshare, a person simply has to use a smartphone and a downloaded app to connect to a ridesharing network. Drivers on the networks use their own vehicles to pick up and drop off passengers for a fee, ultimately operating like traditional taxi services.

At present, individual cities in the state are allowed to decide if they will permit ridesharing companies to operate within their borders. However, the Wisconsin State Legislature is currently looking at a proposed law that would permit ridesharing companies to operate throughout the entire state. One of the legislative authors of the bill suggests that such a law may give people in less populated areas more transportation choices since bus and taxi services may not be prevalent in their areas.

Another use of the proposed bill that lawmakers have expressed is the potential for ridesharing to help combat the state's drunk driving problem. Interest groups and even ridesharing companies have undertaken studies to see what impact ridesharing has on drunk driving charges in the places that the companies operate; generally, the studies found that where ridesharing companies operated, incidents of arrest for drunk driving and DUI went down.

Ridesharing may give Wisconsin residents an opportunity to avoid getting charged with a crime if they decide to imbibe and then find themselves without a way to get home. It will now be up to state legislators to determine if the pitfalls of ridesharing operations outweigh the potential benefits of letting such services extend throughout the state. If passed, drivers who need a ride due to alcohol consumption may only need to turn to their smartphones to find a way home.

Source: WJFW, "State lawmakers propose ridesharing legislation," March 30, 2015

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