Assessing the Impact of Twenty Underage Drinking Laws

At least 20 minimum legal drinking age 21 (MLDA-21) laws have been adopted at the state level in the United States since their introduction nearly 30 years ago. While a significant decline in youth alcohol-related traffic fatalities, youth self-reported drinking, and number of arrests for underage drinking has been observed over the last two decades, many of the MLDA-21 laws have not been evaluated since their adoption. In this study, the authors assess the impact that MLDA-21 laws currently have on underage drinking and driving fatal crashes. They identify nine MLDA-21 laws associated with significant decreases in fatal crash ratios of underage drinking drivers. These laws include: possession of alcohol; purchase of alcohol; use alcohol and lose your license; zero tolerance .02 blood alcohol concentration limit for underage drivers; age of bartender; state responsible beverage service program; fake ID support provisions for retailers; dram shop liability; and social host civil liability. Their results show that the nine effective MLDA-21 laws play a role in saving approximately 1,135 lives annually. However, only five states have enacted all nine laws and the authors conclude that the adoption of these laws by all states could save an additional 210 lives annually.


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  • Accession Number: 01602197
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 26 2016 9:04AM