Changes in the Law vs. Changes in the Penalties: An Application to Blood Alcohol Content Limits
U of Texas at Arlington Working Paper No. 03-002
35 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2003
Date Written: January 2003
This paper investigates the impact of lowered BAC limits on alcohol related traffic fatalities. Unlike previous studies that find significant reductions in traffic fatalities after legal limits are reduced, this paper shows that once controlling explicitly for enforcement efforts and the severity of penalties the impact of lowered BAC limits is insignificant. This study is important because national legislation was passed in 2000 requiring all states to have a legal limit of 0.08 BAC by 2004. At the time, proponents of the legislation claimed an estimated 600 lives would be saved nation-wide because of the new legal limits. This study shows that this estimate was most likely overstated.
Keywords: traffic safety, drunk driving, accident prevention, economics of crime
JEL Classification: K42, D78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation