PIRE Publication - Effectiveness of social host and fake identification laws on reducing underage drinking driver fatal crashes


Objective: The public generally assumes that the minimum legal drinking age of 21 (MLDA-21) legislation in the United States is embodied in a single law and therefore all states have the same law. Actually, the MLDA-21 state laws consist of multiple provisions that support the core MLDA-21 laws and include a family of policies directed at controlling underage drinking and underage drinking and driving. Because social host and fake identification laws have recently garnered interest by policy makers in the states, this study was designed to determine their effectiveness. Methods: The effective dates for 2 types of social host laws and 3 fake identification laws were documented using the Alcohol Policy Information System (APIS), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) 2011 Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking, and legal research tools. These laws include social host prohibitions (SHPs) and social host civil liability (SHCL), the use of fake identification (FID), retailer support for FID, and transfer/production of FID. We used a pre–post design to evaluate the influence on underage drinking-and-driving fatal crashes of these 5 laws using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data set for the years 1982 through 2010. The data were analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM) controlling for as many variables as possible. Results: For those drivers younger than aged 21 years, FID supplier laws were associated with significant decreases in FARS ratios after states adopted these laws (−1.0%, P =.030). Conclusions: The 24 states that have adopted FID supplier laws are saving an estimated 14 lives per year in the United States. An additional 16 lives could be saved if the remaining states adopted this law. FID supplier laws prohibit the production of a FID or transfer of an ID or FID to another person. The more stringent the law (i.e., whether a state prohibits only one element [weaker law] compared to both transferring and manufacturing a FID [stronger]) the more effective a deterrent it becomes to supplying a minor with a FID. States without FID supplier laws should consider adopting them.

Fell, J.C.
Scherer, M.
Thomas, S.
Voas, R.B.