MADISON, Wis. - Yearly convictions for drunken driving and other related offenses dropped by nearly 18,000 in Wisconsin between 2004 and 2018, according to a report from the state Legislative Reference Bureau.
Alcohol-related fatal crashes have also declined in Wisconsin in the past 12 years,, which has been a trend throughout the country, the study showed.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimates alcohol-related crashes cost Wisconsinites more than $400 million in 2015, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
"The problem is statewide but more concentrated in some areas," the report states. Alcohol-related crashes are highest per capita in the northern and central parts of the state.
The report said certain policy changes such as increased sanctions contributed to the decline in drunken driving-related crashes, although "there is no single or predominant cause."
During the 2019-20 legislative session, lawmakers created a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for an OWI causing the death of another, as well as a mandatory minimum sentence of 18 months in prison for fifth and sixth offenses.
Paul Moberg of the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said new policy efforts should focus on first-time offenses, he said, because there are many more of them than repeat offenses.