A New OWI Crash Statistic: “Place of Last Drink”

place-of-last-drinkA couple of numbers are taken into account after a drunk driving arrest or crash: how high the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was, and how many prior offenses the driver had on his or her record.

Another piece of data is now working its way into impaired driving stats: where was the driver drinking last?

Why “Place of Last Drink” Matters

It’s not just a nosy question. Knowing the place of last drink can tell authorities if there are bars or restaurants out there that are not doing a good enough job of discouraging customers from drinking and driving. The problem could be poor staff training, or a lack of vigilance on the part of servers.

Recently Brown County in Wisconsin has begun thinking about keeping track of where OWI offenders had their last drink. The point is not to take action against bars that happened to be the last place that a driver bent the elbow. But if the tally yields a particular place that seems to be the place of last drink more often than others,  the Brown County Sheriff’s Office would have a talk with the proprietor.

The Theory: All Are Responsible for an OWI

While drunk driving is a bad decision made by one person, it makes a difference if the community gets involved in stopping drunk drivers. A drinker’s friends are a first line of defense against an OWI, and police the last, but servers and even bystanders need to get involved and make sure that a person under the influence does not get behind the wheel. Recording the place of last drink is one method of alerting bars and restaurants that they are, in some sense, responsible for what happens on the road, even if they’re not on it at the time.