The current study focused on 16 of the most pertinent underage drinking laws. The authors noted that no single state has embraced all 16 legislative options, although some have gone much further than others in harnessing the law to tackle underage drinking.
For example, Fell pointed out that Utah has adopted a decidedly aggressive posture having put in place 15 of the 16 measures. By contrast, Kentucky has passed just six.
"I think the timing of this report is very good," added Fell, "because there are several states that are currently considering legislation to actually lower the drinking age back down to 18, either for the military or for all citizens. And this research shows that while the laws we now have cannot totally prevent underage drinking and driving, they are effective and do reduce it."
Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of injury prevention and research at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and medical director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Chicago, agreed.
"This study confirms that the drinking laws designed to limit alcohol use by drivers less than 21 years [old] has accomplished what these laws were intended to do -- decrease the number of fatal crashes," she said.
For more about underage drinking, visit the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.
SOURCES: James C. Fell, senior program director, traffic safety and enforcement programs, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Calverton, Md.; Karen Sheehan, M.D., medical director, Injury Prevention and Research, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, and medical director, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Chicago; July
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