WISCONSIN, (WAOW)-- A new report is shedding light on how pervasive drinking and driving is in the Badger State.
"Wisconsin has a strong tradition or culture of drinking and it's a problem," said David Pabst, Director of Transportation Safety at the Wisconsin DOT.
His reasoning for making the statement is based on a report by Zutobi that found Wisconsin is number 10 in the Nation for driving under the influence.
In 2019, Wisconsin saw 557 DUI arrests for every 100,000 drivers on the road. The state also saw about four deaths for that number of drivers. Those deaths accounted for about a third of all road fatalities that year.
While experts are not saying not to drink, they are pleading with Wisconsinites to do so responsibly.
"Make a conscious decision to do the right thing, so if you're going to go to a party, arrange to have a safe ride home," Pabst said.
In Wisconsin, many bars, restaurants, and supper clubs are partnered with the Tavern League of Wisconsin, which offers free rides to drivers who have been drinking.
"If you are buzzed even a little bit, that's drunk driving and your decision making is so poor that when you're behind a two or three thousand pound missile and you're impaired it's a recipe for disaster and potential tragedy. So we really want you to get that safe ride," Pabst said.
Law enforcement said not only could you end up hurting yourself or others, but you will face legal and financial penalties for impaired driving.
"This isn't a decision that just affects one person. The likelihood for an OWI related accident to impact very dramatically many people is really high," said Todd Baeten, Wausau Police Department Patrol Captain.
Nationwide, drunk driving related deaths are dropping. According to Zutobi, in 1985, they accounted for 41 percent of all road deaths. In 2019, that was cut to 28 percent. But experts say there are ways to do even more.
"This is not one of these 'gotcha' violations that no one knows about. This has been around for a long time. We've been cautioned against these kinds of behaviors for a long time," Baeten said.
Ultimately both law enforcement and experts said the best way to avoid hurting yourself or others is just make a plan for getting home safely before you head out.