In an area where it seems the beer culture rules the road, literally, we sometimes forget that not everyone thinks drinking and driving is no big deal. Unless you are a victim or a loved one of a drunk driving victim, you do not know the devastation that is faced when we think we’re okay to drive after drinking. Unless, of course, you are a police officer, who sees the destruction of a “socially acceptable” Wisconsin OWI every day.
Remember, drinking and driving is a 100 percent preventable crime. Somehow, and this is not just a Wisconsin style, beer culture proclivity… it is more acceptable to drink and drive than it is to have an ignition interlock device. Where Wisconsin OWI law contributes to this falsehood is the reluctance of lawmakers to move ahead with strengthening drunk driving laws in the state. Those are not just the laws that would expand ignition interlock access to all offenders. They are also the laws that barely penalize a person who is drinking and driving for the first time.
Wisconsin OWI law states that a first-offense drunk driving incident, without any aggravating circumstances will be treated as a regular traffic offense. Like a speeding ticket or reckless driving. That gives plenty of wiggle room for those who could prevent their crime to say drinking and driving is no big deal. No consequences, no problem…
Changing the perception of sober driving should not be so challenging. It starts with us, speaking up about drunk friends, and celebrating sober victories. We can all point out that ignition interlock devices are really no big deal, but drinking and driving definitely is a huge problem. We can contact Wisconsin lawmakers and support OWI and ignition interlock law changes. The only socially acceptable part of drinking and driving is the story that ends with a safe ride home at the end of the night.