Despite arrests, fines, convictions and prison time, many Wisconsin drivers continue to drink and drive. A collaboration with the Gannett Wisconsin Media Investigative Team that documents the state’s pervasive problem of repeat drunken driving.
In the past several years, a handful of Wisconsin counties became the first nationwide to test repeat drunken drivers for molecular evidence of heavy drinking in nail or blood samples. Researchers say their initial data show that biomarker testing during treatment may help these offenders stay sober longer, keep them from getting rearrested, save counties money — and make roads safer.
Some drunken drivers are required to attend panels where they hear from victims of drunken driving and their families. But the panels often fail to keep offenders from driving drunk again, and may even increase the chances they will.
“This time, I’m confident, I’m willing, I’m able and I want the sobriety,” says Andrew MacGillis, currently in Fox Lake Correctional Institution on his seventh drunken driving offense. But treatment may prove elusive for MacGillis, who says he has not been offered rehabilitation programs at Fox Lake. Others face a delay or are found noncompliant with court-ordered interviews that qualify them for treatment.
How did Republican backing in a GOP-controlled state, overwhelming public support and virtually no opposition add up to the legislative defeat of a package of drunken driving bills aiming to increase penalties?
In their resignation letter, the four accused the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Statewide Impaired Driving Task Force of focusing “on interventions that have little impact or are not proven to be effective.” They cited various slights that led them to conclude the state was uninterested in their input.