Fatal crash involvement and laws against alcohol-impaired driving

Zador, Paul L. / Lund, Adrian K. / Fields, Michele / Weinberg, Karen
Journal of Public Health Policy
Winter 1989

It is estimated that in 1985 about 1,560 fewer drivers were involved in fatal crashes because of three types of drinking-driving laws. The laws studied were per se laws that define driving under the influence using blood alcohol concentration (BAC) thresholds; laws that provide for administrative license suspension or revocation prior to conviction for driving under the influence (often referred to as "administrative per se" laws); and laws that mandate jail or community service for first convictions of driving under the influence. It is estimated that if all 48 of the contiguous states adopted laws similar to those studied here, and if these new laws had effects comparable to those reported here, another 2,600 fatal driver involvements could be prevented each year. During hours when typically at least half of all fatally injured drivers have a BAC over 0.10 percent, administrative suspension/revocation is estimated to reduce the involvement of drivers in fatal crashes by about 9 percent; during the same hours, first offense mandatory jail/community service laws are estimated to have reduced driver involvement by about 6 percent. The effect of per se laws was estimated to be a 6 percent reduction during hours when fatal crashes typically are less likely to involve alcohol. These results are based on analyses of drivers involved in fatal crashes in the 48 contiguous states of the United States during the years 1978 to 1985.

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