Drinking Problem? or Driving Culture?
Fifth offense. Right now that’s when a drunk driving conviction in Wisconsin becomes a felony. Lower it to the fourth, third, second, or first, because clearly the fifth offense is way too many, but there’s more to the drunk driving problem than how many times someone has to be caught before it becomes a felony. Further, this problem isn’t because some bartenders play a game of dice with customers, have a round with regulars, or have a drink at the end of the night. Of course what it is about, is people getting into their cars when they shouldn’t. So lets start with lowering when a drunk driving offense becomes a felony, but understand the problem is that people make what at the time seems like a rational choice to drive, prior to what clearly is an irrational choice to drive drunk.
Additionally, let’s look at zoning issues and tavern locations as part of the issue. When bars are situated in large parking lots, away from transit, not in a district or neighborhood nor in a walkable area, the result is people will drive to the bar. When cities, towns, and suburbs, legislate the number of parking spots a bar must provide per bar stool, the people will drive to the bar.
It is this culture of driving, this anti-transit attitude, this belief in free parking, that driving is somehow freedom that makes it so difficult to get people to leave the car at home. So, sure toughen drunk driving laws, but leave Wisconsin’s cocktail culture alone and take a closer look at our culture of driving.