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Thursday, Oct 23, 2008, 5:42 pm

Wasted in Wisconsin

By Dan Dineen

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Today, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a front-page editorial as part of their weeklong "Wasted in Wisconsin" series, which calls attention to Wisconsin's problem with drunken driving and advocates for new, tougher laws in Wisconsin.

From the editorial:
Among the points underscored in the series: Wisconsin has led every state in the percentage of drinkers and in binge drinking since at least 1995. Wisconsin treats first-offense drunken driving as a traffic ticket - the only state to do so - and does not consider it a felony until the fifth offense.

As a native Wisconsinite, I give credit to the Journal Sentinel for addressing this issue (although I wonder if doing so two weeks before a presidential election is the best time), while recognizing that any legislative measures -- including softening the influence of the powerful Tavern League, Wisconsin’s alcohol lobby -- have to be aimed at changing Wisconsin’s drinking culture to quell the problem.

The Journal Sentinel will also run a series called “Sobering Reminders” dedicated to the victims of drunken driving, in the same style as the Chicago Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize winning "Killing Our Children" series.

Dan Dineen, a graduate of Loyola University Chicago, is Deputy Publisher of In These Times.

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