Wisconsin OWI Convictions Rise, Reversing Decades Of Progress
The numbers are sobering - with no pun intended. After making forward progress in reversing the number of intoxicated driver convictions in Wisconsin, the trend has reversed course.
What followers have dubbed "a troubling trend" is playing out in a big way. Although final numbers aren't in yet, the preliminary 2022 statististics are enough to show that "Wisconsin had 7,148 crashes that involved impaired drivers" with data current through December 27. That number alone is "the highest number since 2008" according to details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall]. They also continue an "upward trend since 2014"
The state also shared other alcohol-related statistics:
"[t]here have been 3,437 crashes involving injuries and 167 fatalities, meaning this year  will likely end with more deaths in crashes involving impaired drivers than any year since 2015, when 190 people were killed."
Some blame the pandemic - when Americans country-wide upped their alcohol intake. "Traffic fatalities [in Wisconsin] involving impaired drivers....jumped 17%" from 2019 to 2020. But perhaps the pandemic isn't the only cause or reason that the problem is getting worse.
For whatever reason, Wisconsin drivers have a lot of intoxication convictions. That article in the Telegram details those statistics:
"Of the state's more than 4.2 million licensed drivers, more than 770,000 - or nearly one in five - have at least one conviction for operating while intoxicated on their record, according to the Department of Transportation. More than 20,000 have at least five OWI convictions."
Some instantly blame the culture that Wisconsin seems to have with drinking. That culture include "a state flush with bars, liquor stores, beer gardens, and tailgate parties"; it's also " a state where corner bars are revered, brew pubs have blossomed, and drinks such as the Brandy Old Fashioned and Spotted Cow have become state symbols". Additionally, grocery stores and convenience stores offer full-sized beer and liquor sections.
Consumption numbers are also high in Wisconsin:
"According to data from the Wisconsin ALcohol Policy Project, 64.4% of Wisconsinites drink alcohol, which ranks it third only behind New Hampshire (64.6%) and Washington, D.C. (68.7%). And when Wisconsin adults drink, they drink more often and have more alcohol than adults in other states. They drink an average of 2.6 standard drinks when they drink while only 37.9% of Wisconsin adults who binge drink they (sic) put themselves at risk."
For their part, law enforcement is trying a variety of different tactics to combat the rising numbers. Those methods involve education, extra enforcement, and training for the police, sheriff, and state patrol.