Teen Drinking in Wisconsin

Sienna Guptill

A car that has crashed into a whiskey glass signifying what could happen if you drink and drive. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/11/16/feds-to-finally-explore-drunk-driving-prevention-tech/

We’ve all heard stories about students having a couple (adult beverages) and getting behind the wheel, right? Think of this: you’re at a party, someone drove you to that party and you want to go home but your driver was drinking and you really need to get home so what do you do? Well, “17% of teens would go in that car when that driver is under the influence,” says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Would you make the right decision and ask someone that is sober or call a cab or even call your parents if you’re close to your parents? 

The Deadly Consequences 

Underage drinking can be dangerous and even deadly. According to Tom Zenner, the Chief of Police of Stevens Point, this is what he had to say about the dangers of drinking underage “ 78 underage Citations in 2019 and that’s just the underage drinking  and it’s not just the alcohol-related issues it’s the residual cases in charges that we see alcohol is related to such as operating motor vehicles making poor choices sexual assaults, disorderly conduct, retail thefts, significant events, and other issues.” This is coming from someone who spent 27 years in law enforcement. 

Comparing two dates (2019-2021) just shows how much danger is put onto someone that drinks and drives and makes poor life choices. When you think about it, the numbers have probably gone up in just 2 years.  “It is estimated that there were around 11,640 drunk driving deaths in 2019 nationally. These numbers are based on the 38,800 fatalities in car crashes in 2019 nationally and that roughly 30% of fatal crashes are caused by drunk driving in the United States,” according to the CDC { Centers for Disease Control and Prevention}.  

Drunk drinking is one of many causes of death here in Wisconsin and the number of fatal accidents keeps going up. “In Wisconsin, there were 159 drunk driving deaths in 2018 and 136 drunk driving deaths in 2019. In 2020, Wisconsin had around 145 fatalities related to drunk driving,” according to the CDC{ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention}.  The lower number of deaths is likely because most bars were closed due to a pandemic. 

Many factors can be involved with the idea of suicide but drinking can have a big part in that choice. “Each year, about 300 young people die in alcohol-related suicides,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. When you drink a good helping amount of alcohol you’re just putting yourself up for failure and making life harder because you don’t know a way to deal with certain types of emotions involving trauma or family-related issues.

The Actions of Drinking 

Drinking comes with a lot of consequences, those might include significant injuries.   There are some stories out there that give reasoning of why they drink to numb everything or even just to feel happy again like they were before, most of the time it just ends badly. 

I  had one particular case where was alcohol-related that involve individuals playing with firearms that ended badly unintentionally but again that comes into decision making alcohol-related incidents that ended in suicide based on just poor decision making in coping skills that are present when someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and decision-making. I’m looking at a 17-year-old male that made a decision while under alcohol that I know has closed multiple doors in his life and his expectations of going into the military in this particular case were done, says the Chief of Police, Tom Zenner.  

Getting into a habit with something like alcohol tends to close multiple doors and gives you fewer options in life because you choose a path of drinking and many ways of hurting yourself or others.  

The Impact on the Brain 

Drinking has a huge impact on the brain. “Drinking can damage the parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and self-control,” says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  When thinking about it, people kind of forget that every mind is different. Every mind develops in a different way when you add a chemical into the balance making it harder to have the ability to learn or to have self-control.  “Alcohol affects young people more powerfully than it does adults, and drinking before the brain and body are fully developed can have dangerous effects,” said the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. When you think about it, drinking at a young age affects a lot but that might just be a coping mechanism that distracts the mind from what’s going on in real life instead of actually handling it.

 “17% of kids who drink have been in a car with a driver who’d been drinking alcohol,” says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. You’re putting yourself in a situation where you know it’s not the best but your brain is telling you differently because you’re more confident and you have more courage while you’re under the influence instead of being sober. 


The takeaway of this article is to teach one or even a couple of students that there can be a different path you can take instead of getting into that car or picking up that drink knowing that there are going to be side effects to your decision-making when or if you decide to drink and drive. Making a poor decision could lead to jail time, hanging around the wrong crowd, or even getting yourself into a situation where you can’t recover from it. There are many effects that come from drinking.