; Tippetts, A.S.
; and Fell, J. Accident Analysis and Prevention
, vol. 35, pgs. 579-587 (2003)The objective of this research was to determine the extent to which the decline in alcohol-related highway deaths among drivers younger than age 21 years can be attributed to raising the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) and establishing zero tolerance (0.02% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers younger than age 21 years) laws. Data on all drivers younger than age 21 years involved in fatalities in the United States from 1982 to 1997 were used in the study. Quarterly ratios of BAC-positive to BAC-negative drivers in each of the 50 states where analyzed in a pooled cross-sectional time-series analysis. After accounting for differences among the 50 states in various background factors, changes in economic and demographic factors within states over time, and the effects of other related laws, results indicated substantial reductions in alcohol-positive involvement in fatal crashes were associated with the two youth-specific laws.
The policy of limiting youth access to alcohol through MLDA laws and reinforcing this action by making it illegal for underage drivers to have any alcohol in their system appears to have been effective in reducing the proportion of fatal crashes involving drinking drivers.