Drunk Driving Kills Hundreds in WI Every Year

By: Rachelle Baillon Email
By: Rachelle Baillon Email

Monday, April 29, 2013--10p.m.
MADISON--He's a killer so serial that hundreds of Wisconsinites die at his hands each year. Sometimes he strikes by day, sometimes by night. Young, old, none are safe--and you could be the next victim.

This killer's appearance is constantly shifting; his identity? The drunk driver. "I'm outraged particularly by those terrible cases where an innocent person is driving down the street and a drunk driver crosses the center line, hits them head on and wipes somebody's life out and totally alters their family's lives," said State Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon. "We hear these stories over and over and over again and at some point you say 'my goodness it just seems to go on and on'."

In 2009, the most recent year for which data was available, Wisconsin's murder rate was 2.6 per 100,000 people. Over that same period, the rate killed by a drunk driver was 3.75 per 100,000.

"In 2011 as far as OWI arrests, generally speaking, were somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000," said Maj. Sandra Huxtable, the director of the Bureau of Transportation Safety for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

And some of those people just don't seem able to stop: "We've seen as high as 16, 16th offense OWI," said Maj. Huxtable.

And while drunken driving does happen everywhere, Wisconsinites are definitely worse than their nearest neighbors: In 2011, 225 people were killed in alcohol related crashes. Minnesota's number was less than half that--at 111. Illinois had about 160 drivers killed--that's fewer than Wisconsin--with a population that's more than double that of the Badger state. "It's behavior," said Maj. Huxtable. "I mean the society in Wisconsin is very accepting of alcohol." "I'm not here to say that people shouldn't drink," she said. "What I'm here to say is, if they've been drinking, find a different way home, don't drive, don't put their life at risk or someone else's life at risk."

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