• Apr 12, 2010
We all know by now that no matter what the law dictates, those with an interest not in-line with the law will do what they can to work, shall we say, around the law. Wisconsin is said to have one of the highest rates of DUIs and binge drinking, and that probably has something to do with the state's beer culture. Kids under the age of 21 can drink in public if they're with a parent or legal guardian, and when you get your first DUI – at any age – it's treated as a traffic violation, not a criminal act.

Why is that allowed to continue? The theory goes something like this: State legislators are the same kinds of hard drinkers as the general populace and they don't want to get worked over for DUIs. Said a University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin professor, "There is a live hard, play hard, cut corners, get away with anything you can culture in the Legislature. Driving drunk is just part of a larger political culture of getting away with anything you can."

Case in point: State rep Jef Wood has been busted three times in less than a year, and plans to defend himself in part by establishing the well populated history of assemblymen caught drunk behind the wheel. That makes it sound like things aren't going to change any time soon. And makes us think there's a little bit more going on in those flyover states than one would imagine...

[Source: The Associated Press]


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  • 48 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just protecting their interests.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well this will solve the problem in Milwaukee hopefully!
      http://www.pedaltavern.com/
      • 4 Years Ago
      Even the state AG got bagged in a state vehicle.



      • 4 Years Ago
      The reason Wisconsin punishes drunk driving less severely than the rest of the nation isn't so much because of our culture of brewing beer, it's because the Wisconsin Tavern League is and always has been one of the state's most powerful lobbying groups. They are a true juggernaut in the state capitol and have law makers of both parties in their pockets.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Perhaps I didn't make myself clear (enough). Wisconsin's lax drunk driving laws and enforcement thereof is the direct result of the lobbying efforts of the Wisconsin Tavern League and have nothing to do with our state's beer-brewing heritage or the brewing industry.
        • 4 Years Ago
        As I recall, there aren't many "major" breweries left in Wisconsin. Top tier is Miller. Middle tier would probably be Fox Point and Leinenkugel's. Schlitz, Pabst, Blatz, Heilemann's, Braumeister, all left long ago.

        I guess all the micro-breweries make it "Brewery-Heavy" (although, I doubt Wisconsin is the leader in that field).
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Zamifir-
        The Tavern League represents the bar owners, not the breweries, and their influence is responsible for a bunch of screwy quirks with our liquor laws - like, for instance, no package liquor sales after 9 PM. (To ensure that you go to the bar to get a drink at night) Of course the bars have a vested interest in making sure DUI punishment is light.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Is it weird I'm kinda proud of us? Ah, Milwaukee.
      • 4 Years Ago
      In the '80s an open container violation in North Dakota was a $50 fine, and it didn't even go on your record.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Typical Wisconsin town, one Lutheran church, one Catholic church, one non-denominational Christian church, a cross roads with a flashing light, a building on each corner, one vacant the other 3 bars.

      Its best to avoid driving across Wisconsin around closing time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow. No wonder U. of Wisconsin is such a huge party school.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Drunk driving is not acceptable and drunk drivers should be taken off the road forever and ideally sent to prison.

      The largest obstacle in the way of doing that is the way the prohibitionists at MADD have successfully redefined the offense from drunk driving to drinking and driving.

      An open container is not drunk. A 20 year old who blows 0.01 is not drunk. Three beers with dinner is not drunk. A rolling stop is not drunk.

      And the idiotic charade we keep up wherein those casual drinkers are drunks too is the best possible haystack for the relatively few genuine drunk drivers to hide in and avoid punishment.

      You can't severely punish over a million people a year. The prisons are already beyond full and the economy would collapse from people not showing up for work.

      So we streamlined the process into a check for the court cashier, and another check for the DUI attorney, and another check for the insurance company. Ka-ching, Ka-ching, Ka-ching. And the guy who had 14 shots goes to the same register as the guy who had 3 beers.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Exactly... the draconian drunk driving laws we have today are a mockery and only serve to mask the real problem. The anti-drunk driving industry, and that's what it is an industry, is in it for the money and that's warped the issue into something else entirely.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are so right. It drives me crazy that I can't have a beer on my way home from work. In fact, if I were even to talk about it people would launch a tirade against me. There is nothing wrong with having a beer while driving home from work and if you are going to lump me in with the murderers who go cruising after a twelve pack, than you are an idiot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe things are better in northern WI, because southern WI, near the illilame border is just as much as police state as IL is. Seems they prefer getting you for really minor speeding infractions though, guess not DUIs. Of course I have zero interest in testing this theory.

      Good to know next time I go camping up in northern WI and someone needs to make a beer run - several beers into the night. Again, I won't be that driver nor will I ride - but at least there's a better chance of the beer making it back to camp.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Simple really, while driving your blood alcohol reads only 0. Anything more a life time driving suspension. Why is this even an issue? Way too many drunks out there causing way too many problems.
        • 4 Years Ago
        We may as well go all out then and say that if you're driving 1mph over the speed limit, you get a lifetime suspension as well. Speeding is a big contributor to accidents as well right??

        Let's keep going down the line; Run a red light? Banned! Take a phone call while driving? Banned! Fail to signal a lane change? Banned! etc. etc. You can easily begin to see the ridiculousness of this. On the other hand though, that would really thin the herds quite a bit and would make my daily drives that much better.

        As was said above, drinking and driving is not illegal, drunk driving is and there is a limit which constitues which is which(an artificially low one if you ask me).

        If they really wanted to make driving safer for all of us they'd make it tougher to get a license and not give them to any person of age who walks in the door and can turn the key. I'm all for stricter driving tests and much more rigorous training. Driving is a privledge, not a right and should be treated as such.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, not really simple at all. 0? A lifetime suspension? You gotta be kidding me. People do not deserve to be punished for having a single beer with dinner then driving home. You think the lady who has a single glass of wine at dinner before driving home should receive the same punishment as the lady who downs a fifth of Jack and goes joyriding? Your solution is stupid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't see anything wrong with their laws on this at all. Sometimes less restrictions are better restrictions. Contrary to popular belief, some Americans actually can police themself.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Even one death due to DUI is too many."

        Drunk driving is probably the most over enforced policy in the country. For decades, more people have died as a result of drowsy driving than drunk driving.

        I'm not defending drunk driving, but the risk/reward ratio needs to be taken into account for all laws. Wisconsin is managing to have fewer DUI related deaths with less stringent laws. What can we learn from them?
        • 4 Years Ago
        i'm not supporting DUI one bit, and i hope my comment didn't make it seem as though i did. I simply meant, sometimes more laws aren't the best. If you are drinking and driving and kill someone, you should go to jail, no questions asked. Obviously if you've had a friend or family member killed by a drunk driver, you would disagree. Two of my uncles were killed in two separate car accidents before i was born, Alcohol was not a factor in either crash. my dad has been a volunteer firefighter and a driver for the local EMS for around 20 years. I understand the risks of DUI, DWI, etc. My main message i want to get across is..sometimes passing a new law, is just asking for people to break it. If it's not illegal, people won't get that thrill from doing something wrong. Hopefully that makes sense cause i tend to ramble. :-)
        • 4 Years Ago
        What planet are you from ????????????
        • 4 Years Ago
        Some day's I really wonder....
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, and the highest rate of DUIs in the country supports that theory. I'm sorry, but if anyone here had someone they loved killed by a drunk driver they would probably have a different opinion of this idiocy. Even one death due to DUI is too many. Don't quote me numbers and tell me their laws are better. Lower fatalities is one thing but how about percentage of fatalities due to DUI? It just means that the laws elsewhere still aren't working and idiots are still driving under the influence.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nelly,

        I don't see your point... Murder/homicide is ALREADY illegal. How many different ways do we need to outlaw it?

        More laws only further restrict the freedoms of others who don't need to be policed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Nelly... At 34% of traffic fatalities involving a DUI level of .08 or higher, Wisconsin's tied with 5 other states at 22nd (1% higher than the national average, btw). Suspect there's no big headline to be scored with correlations to breweries for numbers 1 through 21 however.
      • 4 Years Ago
      There are serious efforts to toughen up Wisconsin laws. More people everywhere seem to believe that being safe is far more important than being free. We also seem to forget that alcoholism is an addiction, and felony charges are not thje first line effective treatment. I also don't understand why anyone would be concerned about someone under the age of 21 drinking legally with a parent. Isn't that more sensible than an underage drinker imbibing with other underage friends, having no supervision at all?
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