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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Illinois Alcohol Tax Increase Led to Fewer Car Accidents Statewide

by Jared Staver in Auto Accidents

According to a University of Florida study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Illinois’ 2009 alcohol tax increase led to a 26 percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths across the state. This percentage was even more marked among drivers under the age of 30, which dropped by 37 percent.

Not only has the alcohol tax increase in Illinois decreased alcohol-related deaths, but also crashes involving drunk drivers in general which were reduced by 22 percent. Drunk driving offenses in the state have similarly decreased.

The study used a number of measures to isolate the tax as a variable, allowing the researchers to determine with a level of certainty that the drop in alcohol-related deaths could be attributed mainly to the tax, not traffic safety programs, weather, economic conditions, or other variables.

Illinois May Become the National Model for Alcohol Taxation

While no one like to hear about increased taxes on alcoholic drinks, the small increase in cost may be worth the overall public safety benefits. For less than half an additional cent per beer on average, the risk of getting in a drunk driving accident has gone down significantly here in Illinois over the last few years. When you consider that around 30 people are killed in drunk driving accidents in the U.S. every day, this decrease becomes even more significant.

As it currently stands, alcohol costs less than ever before, leading to widespread drinking and driving. In fact, an alcohol addiction that compelled a person to drink 10 drinks a night now would only cost an average American three percent of his disposable income, compared to 50 percent in the 1950s. Much of this relative decline can be attributed to the declining cost of alcohol taxes due to inflation.

This has led Alexander C. Wagenaar, professor of health outcomes and policy at University of Florida College of Medicine and lead researcher on the study, to recommend similar measures be taken across the country. According to Wagenaar, “Similar alcohol tax increases implemented across the country could prevent thousands of deaths from car crashes each year… If policymakers are looking to address dangerous drivers on our roads and reduce the number of fatalities, they should reverse the trend of allowing inflation to erode alcohol taxes.” For the sake of public health and safety everywhere in America, it may be a good policy to follow.

In the meantime, people should still take care not to drink and drive. Unfortunately, many people are injured in drunk driving accidents that were the other driver’s fault. If you or a family member has been hurt in a drunk driving accident caused by another person’s negligence, you may deserve extra compensation for your pain and suffering. Don’t let their carelessness hurt you any more. Call Illinois lawyer Jared Staver today for a free consultation on your case at (312) 236-2900. Find out how an experienced Illinois lawyer can get your case settled with the best outcome possible.