How do we curb our community’s drinking problem?

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Greg Peck
July 16, 2013

In Monday’s Gazette, readers learned about a Janesville man that police arrested for his fifth drunken driving offense after he reportedly crashed into a tree, and they followed a trail of blood to his home blocks away.

He’s far from alone. The Janesville Police Department has a map pinpointing the homes of dozens of offenders with at least five drunken driving convictions.

Sordid stories of how people get to such points vary. Most of them likely started drinking as teenagers. And Janesville Mobilizing 4 Change is putting new emphasis on this age-old problem. Many young people have easy access to alcohol. They get beer or liquor from their homes or from older friends or siblings. As The Gazette’s Shelly Birkelo reported Thursday, the coalition is in the midst of a month-long campaign, “The Easiest Place for Kids to Get Beer is Right Next to the Milk.”

The group is displaying an empty refrigerator at Hedberg Public Library to illustrate the problem. It is giving away refrigerator locks. It is asking people to send it photos of alcohol products and their promotions around town. The coalition quickly got pictures of fully stocked garage and basement refrigerators and of a beer pong drinking game at a novelty store.

Amid Wisconsin’s culture of alcohol, does the coalition have any hope of succeeding? Can it truly curb underage drinking? Can it help prevent more broken lives?

We’ll share our perspectives in our editorial Wednesday.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

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