As adult arrests for drunk driving in Wisconsin leveled off over the past decade, juvenile arrests nearly doubled, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. When 724 teenagers were arrested for drunk driving in 2002, the total was a 15-year high and about 83 percent higher than the 396 arrested in 1992. Said Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher: “We try to make sure that people know we’re out there everywhere and we’re going to catch them. But beyond that we have to do more in the way of education, and I just don’t see us doing it.”
Columbia County District Attorney Jane Kohlwey said the increase highlights the need to change public perception. “There is still this concept among people that it’s a rite of passage,” said Kohlwey. “But it’s not an innocuous thing. There has to be education for the whole community, not just the teenagers.”
News media reports draw attention to teenagers prosecuted after horrific car crashes involving alcohol, but other teenagers pass through the legal system quietly.
In Waukesha, Dustin P. Dominick gained attention last year when he was prosecuted for killing a friend in a spectacular crash. Dominick, then 18, hosted a drinking party and then split a borrowed car in half when he drove it into a tree at high speed with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.106. Meanwhile, Paul K. Bennett, 19, is being prosecuted in the same courthouse with barely any notice as a second-offense drunken driver in a hit-and-run accident when he had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.218. His first arrest for drunken driving came at age 16.