How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?
We present a methodology for measuring the risks posed by drinking drivers that relies solely on readily available data on fatal crashes. The key to our identification strategy is a hidden richness inherent in two-car crashes. Drivers with alcohol in their blood are seven times more likely to cause a fatal crash; legally drunk drivers pose a risk 13 times greater than sober drivers. The externality per mile driven by a drunk driver is at least 30 cents. At current enforcement rates the punishment per arrest for drunk driving that internalizes this externality would be equivalent to a fine of $8,000.
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