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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  

Craig A. Depken

University of North Carolina at Charlotte - The Belk College of Business Administration - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 2003

Abstract

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

Depken, Craig A., Changes in the Law vs. Changes in the Penalties: An Application to Blood Alcohol Content Limits (January 2003). U of Texas at Arlington Working Paper No. 03-002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=370027 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.370027

Craig A. Depken (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte - The Belk College of Business Administration - Department of Economics ( email )

Charlotte, NC 28223
United States

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