PIRE Publication - Scoring the strengths and weaknesses of underage drinking laws in the United States


Several studies have examined the impact of a number of minimum legal drinking age 21 (MLDA-21) laws on underage alcohol consumption and alcohol-related crashes in the United States. These studies have contributed to our understanding of how alcohol control laws affect drinking and driving among those who are under age 21. However, much of the extant literature examining underage drinking laws uses a “Law/No law” coding, which may obscure the variability inherent in each law. Previous literature has demonstrated that inclusion of law strengths may affect outcomes and overall data fit when compared to “Law/No law” coding. In an effort to assess the relative strength of states' underage drinking legislation, a coding system was developed in 2006 and applied to 16 MLDA-21 laws. The current article updates the previous endeavor and outlines a detailed strength coding mechanism for the current 20 MLDA-21 laws.

Fell, James C.
Thomas, Sue
Scherer, Michael
Fisher, Deborah A.
Romano, E.