Does Wis. DOT “Drive Sober” app do enough to curb drunk driving?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — How many drinks until you’re legally drunk in Wisconsin? Do you know your limit? The Wisconsin DOT has launched a new phone app to help people determine whether they’re fit to drive after consuming alcohol. However, what this app tells people may put them and others in danger.

Wisconsin’s new Drive Sober phone app allows drinkers to spin the virtual bottle to pick a designated driver in the group. It plays extreme videos bearing the “don’t drive drunk” message.

It also allows drinkers to estimate their blood alcohol content by putting in their gender, weight and how many drinks they’ve had in an hour.

The app also includes links to cab services.

FOX6 News showed the app to a 140-pound man who may drink four drinks in an hour. The app estimated his BAC at .098 — above the legal limit in Wisconsin. The man told FOX6 News he feels the app was accurate.

John Cash is 180 pounds. With four drinks in an hour, the app shows he is buzzed, but not legally drunk.

“That sounds about accurate,” Cash said.

Some worry an app like this can give people a false sense of security — advising them they are not legally drunk, when they shouldn’t be driving at all.

“We make it very, very clear this is an estimate. That it’s only an estimater. Every person metabolizes alcohol in a different manner and at that time they don’t know if they’re actually going up on the curve or going down,” a DOT official told FOX6 News.

In Froedtert Hospital’s emergency room, Dr. Stephen Hargarten says we all need to look at a much broader approach.

“It’s an individual behavioral approach that may have some benefits. We need to evaluate this, but it’s also important to realize a server at a tavern influences many people in their decisions to serve people, so if I were to target a group with an app I would target servers because they influence many more,” Dr. Hargarten said.

Wisconsin got almost $400,000 in federal grant money to launch an educational campaign to curb drunk driving. It is unclear how much, specifically, this app is costing taxpayers.

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