Milwaukee skyline at dusk

Frequently Asked Questions

What is WisAPP?

The Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project (WisAPP) was formed to provide training, tools and technical assistance to municipalities, law enforcement, public health and community groups working to reduce injury, disease and death caused by excessive drinking. Since its founding in 2010, it has worked with communities to implement evidence-informed policies that can reduce underage and binge drinking, heavy drinking and drinking while pregnant.

What is excessive alcohol use?

Excessive alcohol use is defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as binge, heavy drinking, underage drinking and drinking while pregnant.

Understanding the problem of excessive alcohol use

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. This occurs when a woman consumes four (4) or more drinks or a man consumes five (5) or more drinks in about two hours. Binge drinking can be damaging to a person’s health, well-being, and safety.

Learn more about binge drinking

What is heavy drinking?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week.

Learn more about heavy drinking

What are the harms of underage drinking?

Alcohol is the most used drug among adolescents. Underage drinking results in injuries and deaths each year through motor vehicle crashes, violence, suicide, alcohol poisoning, and other causes. Underage drinking is also implicated in sexual assault and other crimes, impaired brain function, school, and social problems, decreased academic performance, and the increased risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life. And lastly, it can make changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

Learn more about underage drinking

Why isn’t it safe for someone who is pregnant to drink?

Exposure of the fetus to alcohol is the most common cause of babies born with birth defects and intellectual disability, effects that could be prevented by not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, pregnant women should not drink any form of alcohol at any time during pregnancy as it has been shown to cause serious and negative effects on the development of the baby (fetus). There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or when someone is trying to become pregnant.

Learn more about drinking while pregnant

Why does the alcohol environment matter?

How many places sell alcohol, where and when one can drink alcohol, how inexpensive it is and ease of access to alcohol, impact how much alcohol is consumed. The critical nature of the alcohol environment has been studied and shows the higher the alcohol density, there is generally more crime, child neglect, and higher rates of injury and death due to alcohol consumption.

Whether a community allows many events, especially youth and child-oriented events to sell and/or serve alcohol is important as it makes a significant impression on children and how they learn about alcohol use or misuse.

Substantial research has shown that the more attractive alcohol is made to appear, the more people drink it. Advertising is used to influence both adults and children. It’s especially important to understand since it impacts underage drinking. Children are exposed multiple times throughout the day to images of alcohol and its advertising, including product placement in stores. The more ubiquitous alcohol and alcohol marketing is in communities, the more attractive they think it is, the more likely they are to drink it.

How can I change the alcohol environment to reduce excessive alcohol use?

There are many ways to improve the alcohol environment in communities. Alcohol policies in your community should be enforced. From there, there are a wide range of policy and systems changes that can occur to make a healthier alcohol policy environment. Our website contains multiple resources and recommendations in this regard. The SCAODA Report on Policies and Strategies to Prevent and Reduce Excessive Alcohol Use in Wisconsin, has 61 recommendations for reducing excessive alcohol use.

Learn more about the SCAODA Report

Why don’t you use terms like alcohol abuse, alcoholic, alcoholism, addiction or drunk?

WisAPP uses Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as we want to separate the disease from the person. For example, a person has diabetes, but they aren’t the disease. We think it’s also important to use language that doesn’t stigmatize or prejudice, and accurately and reliably describes the condition.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's definition of AUD:

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and the colloquial term, alcoholism. Considered a brain disorder, AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Learn more on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) website

Our county wants to do Alcohol Age Compliance Checks (AACC). Do you have a list of alcohol licenses?

Yes, our list is updated on an annual basis, and we are happy to send it. However, there may have been new licensees approved since the list was finalized on July 1. You may consider asking your municipal clerks for any additional licenses.

We’d like to start Alcohol Age Compliance Checks (AACC). How do we get started?

First it would be important to inquire with your law enforcement, health and/or human services department if AACC have been done or are being done.

Learn more about Alcohol Age Compliance Checks (AACC)

I don’t know if my municipality (city/village/town) has a specific ordinance or law. How do I find out?

Most cities, villages, and towns in Wisconsin have an official website with information about their local government. You can often find a link to local laws in the government section of the website, or as a standalone section. You can also use the website search feature, as sometimes the ordinances are hidden deeper in the website. The link might use any of the following terms: municipal code, ordinances, resolutions, or municipal code. For those municipalities that do not have a link, you may have to contact the municipal clerk directly. WisAPP provides training and technical assistance for finding and understanding your local alcohol laws.

How do we find out about Responsible Beverage Server Training?

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) certifies Responsible Beverage Server Training (RBST) courses but does not endorse or administer any of the programs. The list of certified courses can be found at DOR Alcohol Seller/Server.

Learn more about responsible beverage service (RBS) training

What is Place of Last Drink (POLD)?

POLD projects include data collection from those who are pulled over and suspected of intoxication. The focus is trying to learn if there are places that people come from where excessive alcohol has been consumed. Research shows that this may be a recreational area, festival, park, home, bars or restaurants, among other places. To serve someone who is already intoxicated is illegal in Wisconsin. If there is a pattern of people coming from a place intoxicated, there can be interventions to help reduce over service or consumption of alcohol to keep our community and roadways safer.

Learn more about Place of Last Drink (POLD)

Where can I find information about summer festivals and outdoor events?

WisAPP has resources on summer festivals and outdoor events.

Learn more about licensing, policies and practices for festivals and events