Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Is .05 the way to curb drunken driving?

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Greg Peck
May 28, 2013

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state’s largest newspaper, supports a federal safety board’s call for lowering the blood-alcohol threshold for drunken driving from .08 to .05.

The National Transportation Safety Board says Europe adopted that standard and slashed traffic deaths due to drunken driving by more than half within 10 years.

Yes, Wisconsinites love to imbibe. Our drinking culture is embedded in the state’s brewing history and even the Milwaukee baseball team’s nickname and stadium. Census statistics show Wisconsin ranks third nationally with more than 3,000 taverns—and that excludes those with full kitchens.

Bear in mind, as well, that a UW Population Health Institute study released in April said excessive drinking in Wisconsin costs a staggering $6.8 billion each year—and that taxpayers pick up almost $3 billion of that tab.

Yet as PoltiFact Wisconsin stated in Sunday’s Gazette, some people—for example, a 100-pound woman—could reach that .05 standard with no more than one glass of wine for dinner. A 160-pound man might reach that level after just two drinks in one hour.

So should Wisconsin adopt what the national safety board recommends?

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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