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'Place of Last Drink' study works to combat drunken driving

A new study in Brown County called 'Place of Last Drink' is working to cut down the number of OWI arrests in the area, April 10, 2018. (WLUK/File)

BROWN COUNTY (WLUK) -- In an effort to cut down OWI arrests, the Brown County Traffic Safety Commission is taking action.

The commission has conducted a new study called "Place of Last Drink."

"We need a cultural change in our society when it comes to OWIs and people drinking and driving," explained Capt. Dan Sandberg of the Brown County Sheriff's Office.

Sandberg, who is the commission chairman, says eight different law enforcement agencies participated. Each asked an OWI offender where they had their last drink.

"The big component is the over-serving part that the study is looking at," Sandberg explained.

The "Place of Last Drink" results showed:

  • January-March there were 227 OWI arrests in Brown County
  • 59-percent reported drinking at a bar or restaurant
  • A total of eight bars were mentioned by drunk drivers
  • Four in Green Bay
  • Two in Ashwaubenon
  • One in Wrightstown
  • One in Greenleaf

Sandberg says the results are only for the first quarter of what will be a year-long study.

"The biggest part of that is, as we get more information, the study is going to evolve," he said. "And hopefully, help us make those changes that are needed."

The commission is working in partnership with the Brown County Tavern League.

"The numbers are fresh right now, it's only the first quarter; there are other counties that have had a lot of bigger problems when they first unveiled the place of last drink study, so we look forward to seeing more of these, seeing if there is a problem," said Tavern League President Don Mjelde.

Sandberg says the goal is to bring awareness and provide training at those bars who may be over-serving.

"The educational component, a tavern owner can't be there 24/7, and they might not even be aware of some of the issues that they're having," he said.

Looking ahead, both agencies say their work has just begun.

"In order to succeed, we have to make sure people are being responsible, I'm excited to take the necessary steps," Mjelde explained.

"We want to make them aware of the situation and work with us, so we can solve this problem," Sandberg said.

The commission is scheduled to meet again in July.

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