Thursday, August 18, 2016

Latest Ancillary Law Study Has Major Plot Twist

A new 2016 study by MADD members James C. Fell and Robert Voas, among others, looked at the impact of various ancillary laws related to the 21 drinking age on traffic deaths involving drivers under 21.  Or more accurately, it looked at the effects of such laws on the ratio of "alcohol-related" to non-alcohol traffic deaths among that age group, biased as that may very well be.  Twenty different laws were studied, and the ones that showed statistically significant reductions were as follows:

Possession of alcohol (-7.7%)
Purchase of alcohol (-4.2%)
Use alcohol and lose your license (-7.9%)
Zero tolerance 0.02 BAC (-2.9%)
Age of bartender ≥21 (-4.1%)
State responsible beverage service program (-3.8%)
Fake ID support provisions for retailers (-11.9%)

Two other laws were also statistically significant, though not particularly large in practical terms:

Dram shop liability (-2.5%)
Social host civil liability (-1.7%)

And now for the plot twist:  There were two laws associated with significant increases in alcohol-related fatal crash ratios:

Prohibition of furnishing alcohol to minors (+7.2%)
Registration of beer kegs (+9.6%)

Yes, you read that right.  Two ancillary laws that would be expected to greatly enhance the supposed effectiveness of the 21 drinking age actually had a perverse effect.  And this calls into question whether even any of these laws, including the 21 drinking age itself, actually save any lives at all.  Let that sink in.

As for zero-tolerance laws, one should recall Darren Grant's landmark 2010 study that thoroughly debunked their effectiveness in reducing traffic fatalities.  As for use-and-lose laws, under which a person under 21 can have their driver's license suspended or revoked for simply drinking in their own home even when no driving is involved, they clearly seem to work at cross-purposes with DUI laws, and would likely be made irrelevant with tougher DUI laws in the first place.

Additionally, another recent study in 2014 by some of the same authors as the first one found that social host liability laws apparently had no significant effect on traffic deaths.  Combined with the weak results in the aforementioned study, this blows yet another hole in the pro-21 argument, as one would expect such laws to give more "teeth" to the 21 drinking age.  As for the apparently strong results of the anti-fake ID laws, that could simply be because the 21 drinking age itself (and apparently some of its ancillary laws) may actually increase fatalities in the long run, and reducing the use of fake IDs may take some of this dangerous edge off.  Thus, the effects of such fake ID laws may not necessarily be a net benefit compared to a drinking age of 18.

Thus, these new studies should be seen as the final nail in the coffin for the 21 drinking age.   Looks like Miron and Tetelbaum (2009) were right in that the supposed lifesaving effect of that ageist abomination was really just a mirage all along.


  1. Replies
    1. Dram shop liability, an admittedly antiquated term, is when a bar or restaurant can be sued when one of their patrons and injures others or even themselves in some cases, including (but not limited to) the case of drunk driving after leaving the premises. That is especially true if they serve "underage" customers. Most states, except for Nevada, Louisiana, and a few others have such laws. Canada has that too, but practically no other country in the world has dram shop laws.

      Social host liability is basically the same thing, except that it deals with private hosts, such as house parties. And Twenty-One Debunked opposes both types of liability, as they are antithetical to individual liberty and its flip side, personal responsibility.

  2. Americans are the most bigoted ageists in the world. How could a people who support freedom support tyranny against young people simply because they are young? The use and lose it law is the most tyrannical law I have ever hear of. The United States is not a free and the U.S. will not be a free country until tyrannic laws and tyrannic attitudes remain pervasive in this country. The United States might be too bigoted against young people to save but it is worth a try.

    1. Indeed, any country that sets the drinking age higher than the age of majority is not a free country, especially when it uses tyrannical laws like "use and lose" to prop it up. No one is free when others are oppressed.

      And both dram shop and social host liability laws are classic examples of adultism backfiring on adults. Much like how Jim Crow and its newer version, the War on (people who use a few particular) Drugs, backfires on white folks who become its collateral damage. And also like how denying women their reproductive rights and treating them like brood mares ultimately causes men to be treated horses. Yet in all of these cases, the privileged would rather fight tooth-and-nail to maintain their accursed privilege even when it hurts them too.

  3. Thank goodness the civil rights movements and women's rights movements succeeded in giving rights to members of those movements. As we all know, the War on Drugs is an oppressive war which never should have started. The privileged have become oppressive and it's time to let them know that there's a movement to expand freedom.

  4. Alright then. I guess you still don't want Candy Lightner's head as a birthday present? :) (You know I'm joking, as much as it pains me).

  5. I am unable to read the True Spirit of America blog. The webpage goes away after a few seconds.