Wisconsinites weigh in on study that suggests lowering drunken driving threshold

File photo. (WLUK image)

(WLUK) -- Every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-related crashes. That's according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The study, by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, offers suggestions on how to reduce that number.

One suggestion? Increase alcohol taxes. The report says doubling alcohol taxes could lead to an 11 percent reduction in traffic crash deaths.

But the Tavern League of Wisconsin says, not so fast.

"We would oppose any tax increases on alcohol. I don't know where they get their data. Any assumption that raising taxes is going to save lives, I read reports where raising taxes has no impact on the consumption of alcohol," said Pete Madland with the Tavern League of Wisconsin.

The report goes on to say the hours and days alcohol is sold in stores, bars and restaurants should be reduced.

The tavern league disagrees.

"The people that are out there hurting people, they're going to get their alcohol. Hours of operation of a liquor store or tavern don't make any difference," Madland said.

The study also suggests lowering the blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05.

"Do I disagree with the .05? I don't disagree with it but I just look at it with right now with what we have in law enforcement. It's not going to change anything for us for what we're seeing," said Capt. Dan Sandberg with the Brown County Sheriff's Office.

Sandberg says first there needs to be a cultural shift in how Wisconsinites view drinking and driving.

"We're the only state in the Untied States that doesn't have our first offense as a crime, it's a forfeiture. That's ridiculous. That should be a crime," he said.

Sandberg says there should also be harsher penalties that come along with drinking and driving.

According to the Brown County Sheriff's Office, 10 of the 21 fatal crashes, in 2017, involved alcohol.

In 2016, eight of 15 fatal crashes involved alcohol and in 2015, eight of 13 fatal crashes involved alcohol.

As for the entire state, the DOT's most recent numbers come from 2015. The department says the number and rate of alcohol-related crashes has decreased over the past five years in Wisconsin, yet alcohol remains the single greatest driver contributing cause of fatal crashes.

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