Wisconsin has a tradition as being one of the heaviest binge drinking states in the country. The abundance of breweries that once poured across old Milwaukee earned the label of “Brew city.” Beer lobbyists and the Tavern League of Wisconsin have fought to keep the State’s Beer Tax unchanged since since 1969. At less than a penny on 12 ounces, Wisconsin’s Beer Tax is currently the third lowest in the country. The question of whether less drinking and driving will occur by raising this tax is yet to be determined.
Drunk driving fatalities account for an alarming amount of deaths each year in the United States and Wisconsin has been above the national average every year since 2007. Deterrence measures such as DUI checkpoints, which are statutorily prohibited in Wisconsin, can be very costly. Raising the alcohol tax is one way the Wisconsin State Legislature might curb these numbers without the need for additional funding. Studies have shown that increases in alcohol taxes inevitably affect sales, especially among younger individuals. However, the impact from increasing alcohol taxes on the number of drunk driving fatalities are all estimations.
Nathan J. Dineen