DISCUS Applauds Wisconsin Governor For Signing Tougher Underage Drinking Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) commended Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle for signing A.B. 450 into law earlier this week, increasing fines for those under the legal drinking age who drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. With the passage of A.B. 450, the monetary penalty for a person who is under the legal drinking age and who drives or operates a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) more than 0.0 increased to $200, and to $400 if a minor under the age of 16 was present in the vehicle at the time of the offense. Additionally, the new law requires the Department of Transportation to assess four demerit points for each violation. “Despite significant progress over the past 20 years, underage drinking remains a complex problem that persists in communities across the nation,” said Dale Szyndrowski, vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade association representing the distilled spirits industry and whose organization aggressively supported passage of the legislation. “A combination of effective penalties, such as increased fees and administrative license suspension, and consistent, comprehensive enforcement of those penalties will enhance each community’s efforts to reduce illegal underage drinking. We commend the Governor’s action in signing this important bill into law.” Previous law fined violators $10 and $20, respectively; and, suspended the violator’s operating privileges for three months and six months, respectively. The period of license suspension remains the same under the new law. Szyndrowski further stated that the distilled spirits industry has a long history of working with communities to combat underage drinking and drunk driving. He cited as examples funding the development of the breathalyzer in the 1940’s, co-sponsoring the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” public service campaign in the 1980’s, and the work of The Century Council, a not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers, which has programs available for communities and parents to fight underage drinking and drunk driving. For more information regarding The Century Council’s programs, visit www.centurycouncil.org.