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Four members of drunk driving task force quit; blame Tavern League influence on DOT

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Four members have resigned from a state DOT task force that's looking for ways to reduce drunk driving.  

They sent a copy of their resignation letter to the Associated Press, alleging that tavern owners have too much influence on the panel -- and the panel's draft report misrepresented underage drinking.

The task force is part of a federal requirement for the state to update its highway safety plan. The four resigning members said the Tavern League is partnering with the DOT on the plan, and the group has a "serious conflict of interest" at best.  

Tavern League director Pete Madland told the AP his group is committed to working with the state on ways to reduce drunk driving and alcohol-related traffic deaths. He said many on the task force did not always agree with him on issues, but his group continues to work together to achieve a consensus instead of quitting.  

The four who resigned are Maureen Busalacchi of Health First Wisconsin, Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project coordinator Julia Sherman, and doctors Richard Brown and Stephen Hargarten. They said the hoped the DOT would re-focus on "evidence-based" actions to prevent OWI instead of, as they put it, "sweeping up the debris left behind."  

DOT officials had not commented on the resignations by mid-day.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)