Four Underage Drinking Laws Reduce Fatal Accidents

A study to be published in the July 2009 edition of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, has identified four underage drinking laws that have led to a reduction in alcohol-related fatal crashes.  The laws regulate underage possession and purchase, use-and-lose driver license penalties, and zero tolerance. All state currently have set the minimum legal drinking age to 21, but many states have developed more extensive laws to deal with the issue of underage drinking and driving. “We found that four of the six underage drinking laws that we examined were effective in reducing the rate of drinking drivers aged 20 and younger in fatal crashes,” said James C. Fell, senior program director at the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation and corresponding author for the study. ” The study estimated that four specific types of laws related to possession, purchase, use and lose, and zero tolerance  save about 864 lives every year. “Our analysis shows that raising the drinking age to 21 in all States was, and continues to be, a very effective measure,” Fell also observed. Use and lose laws combined with a zero tolerance position means that any traces of alcohol in the system results in a sanction. They do not have to meet the current minimum standard for adult drinking and driving statutes. States with these types of laws showed a statistically significant drop (5%) in the rate of underage drivers involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes. The study will be published in the July 2009 edition of the journal, available through Wiley-Blackwell.

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