Alcohol Misuse is Everyone’s Problem

Wisconsin has high rates of alcohol misuse but every state experiences the financial burden, lost productivity and the other consequences of alcohol abuse.

In Wisconsin, there is no state law or rule limiting server alcohol consumption.  Wisconsin places most of the responsibility for alcohol control on municipal government; accordingly local ordinances prohibiting intoxicated servers have been adopted by some communities to prevent and sanction alcohol impaired servers.  This memo examines the five Sober Server ordinances in effect in Wisconsin on January 1, 2014.

Summaries of local policies Wisconsin municipalities adopted to prevent and reduce alcohol misuse.

While no single law can solve all alcohol related problems, a group of policies and practices selected to address specific community problems can reduce alcohol related problems and the resulting municipal expense.

  • Operating Alcohol Age Compliance Checks in Wisconsin:  Alcohol age compliance checks are an effective approach to reducing alcohol availability to underage youth.   Because Wisconsin regulates alcohol licenses locally, determining whether local retailers obey minimum legal drinking age laws is a municipal concern.  Learn what age compliance checks accomplish, how other Wisconsin communities use them and how community groups work with local law enforcement to support ongoing operations.
  • Outlet Density: Limiting the Concentration of Retailers Selling and Serving Alcohol in Your Community:  When too many locations sell alcohol in a compact area alcohol related crime and disorder often result.  All communities that have alcohol sales have a level of alcohol outlet density; it becomes an issue when an over-concentration creates alcohol related problems.  This summary explains outlet density, how residents can identify local outlet density and some policy options for controlling outlet density.  This summary complements the Department of Health Services publication Alcohol License Overview for Wisconsin which includes municipal and county level density outlet density statistics.
  • Public Impairment Ordinances in Wisconsin:  Wisconsin does not have a state law prohibiting public intoxication.  Two campus communities adopted different approaches to the problem of individuals who are so seriously intoxicated that they pose a risk to themselves, create public disorder or are vulnerable to harm.  This summary compares the basic elements of both ordinances and highlights the differences between the two approaches.
  • Underage Under the Influence Ordinances in Wisconsin:  It is legal for youth in Wisconsin to consume alcohol in the presence of their parents.  Law enforcement agencies have increasingly reported that when intoxicated youth are located by officers they assert they are intoxicated as a result of alcohol consumed with their parents.  Two communities adopted ordinances making it illegal for underage youth to be in public with measurable blood alcohol if a parent is not present.   This summary examines the elements of each ordinance including how alcohol consumption is established.

Learn more about how every individual and organization can help improve the alcohol environment here.

Health in Practice

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