An impaired driver may have caused several severe accidents in Wisconsin on Fathers’ Day. On June 21, 2020, emergency personnel responded to major accidents on the I-41 highway, near Slinger, Wisconsin. Included in the accidents was a three-car collision which resulted in two vehicles becoming engulfed in flames. Three individuals were transported to seek immediate medical attention. Following the accident, police arrived on the scene and arrested one individual for intoxicated driving.
Details of the Accident
According to Wisconsin State Patrol officials, an intoxicated driver was heading northbound from the US 45 interstate split to WIS 60 highway in Washington County on the evening of Fathers’ Day. Officials say that the driver initially collided with a large camping trailer, causing debris to cover the I-41 highway. Despite causing shutdowns on some lanes of the highway, no individuals were injured in the initial collision. The intoxicated driver then fled the scene and continued down the roadway.
Following the preliminary accident, the intoxicated driver caused another major accident shortly after the first collision. The second accident resulted in a three-car collision and severe injuries. Emergency responders including fire fighters, police, and emergency medical technicians arrived on the scene of the accident. One individual was transported by an emergency helicopter to a local hospital. Additionally, two other individuals were transported by emergency medical services to receive treatment for injuries resulting from the accident.
“Accidents involving intoxicated drivers could be especially dangerous for several reasons,” said attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. of the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. “Intoxication may reduce a driver’s reaction time, concentration, and ability to accurately see objects in front of them. Additionally, intoxication may increase feelings of drowsiness or a desire to take risks. As a result, these injuries could lead to severe injuries or fatalities.”
Police Investigation and Arrest
The fires caused by the collisions resulted in the total shutdown of all traffic lanes on the I-41 northbound highway. Officials say that while severe injuries resulted from the accidents, no fatalities occurred. Additionally, no children were involved in the automobile crashes.
Following the series of accidents, the officers from the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Washington County Sheriff arrived to investigate the accidents. After an initial investigation, a 31-year-old individual was arrested on several charges. This includes operating while intoxicated (OWI), possession of narcotics, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The Prevalence of Intoxicated Driving in Wisconsin
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), nearly 24,000 individuals were convicted of an operating while intoxicated charge in 2015. While a majority of those convicted were above the legal age to consume alcohol, roughly 7 percent of overall OWI convictions occurred with individuals under the age of 21. The median alcohol concentration results for those who received an OWI citation in 2015 was around 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit while operating a vehicle in Wisconsin. Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), identified Wisconsin as the 4th most prevalent state for alcohol-impaired driving compared to the rest of the United States.
In 2015, intoxicated driving contributed to over 5,000 alcohol-related automobile accidents in Wisconsin, resulting in nearly 3,000 recorded injuries. Additionally, of the 390 drivers who died as a result of a traffic fatality, over 120 tested positive for alcohol and 108 were found to be legally intoxicated at the time of the accident. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation found that alcohol was a contributing circumstance in over 48 percent of traffic-related deaths.
Tips to Avoid Intoxicated Driving
There are several actions that individuals could take to reduce the prevalence of intoxicated driving in Wisconsin. This includes actions such as choosing a designated driver before going to a restaurant or bar, not drinking alcohol if dining alone, or utilizing ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft, or taxis. Proactive individuals could also refuse to get in a car with an intoxicated driver or hold on to a friend’s car keys if they have recently consumed alcohol and plan on driving.
Additionally, there are numerous warning signs that drivers could look out for to detect drunk drivers traveling on roadways. Being familiar with some common signs of intoxicated drivers may help prevent a person from becoming involved in an automobile accident. Drunk drivers may frequently drift in traffic lanes, drive on the wrong side of the road, or make sudden or erratic stops.
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