Effects of Tort Liability and Insurance on Heavy Drinking and Drinking and Driving
Using self-reported data on patterns of alcohol use among individuals from the 1989-90 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveys, this study investigates effects of tort liability and third- and first-party insurance, alcohol prices, and criminal sanctions on frequency of binge drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Requiring drivers to purchase third-party insurance discouraged binge drinking, especially in states combining compulsory insurance with a surcharge for a DUI. Implementation of no-fault laws and switching from contributory to comparative negligence increased binge drinking, while higher alcohol prices reduced it. With one exception, neither tort nor contort deterrents affected the fraction of bingeing episodes after which the individual drove. Overall, it appears that deterrence of DUI is achieved by curbing behavior that leads to DUI, namely, binge drinking. Once individuals engage in binge drinking, it appears that many policies designed to be deterrents have little influence. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.
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