Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zero Tolerance, Zero Effect, Says Expert

Date:
September 17, 2009
Source:
Sam Houston State University
Summary:
Zero tolerance laws have zero effect, says one expert, who analyzed data from 30,000 fatalities in nighttime accidents involving drivers under 21.

As college administrators, social scientists and law enforcement officials across the country continue to debate whether the drinking age should be 18 instead of 21, a Sam Houston State University economist challenges a related law: the "zero tolerance" policy.

Darren Grant says zero tolerance laws have zero effect.

In a paper forthcoming in the journal Economic Inquiry, he analyzed data from 30,000 fatalities in nighttime accidents involving drivers under 21.

"Both in terms of the number of accidents and the blood alcohol of the drivers in those accidents, the research consistently showed that zero tolerance laws had no effect," Grant said. "Other factors matter, but not these laws."

Zero tolerance laws became prevalent during the 1990s, when the U.S. Congress threatened to withhold highway funding from states that didn't comply.

Grant says the logic behind zero tolerance laws is suspect.

"The idea was, since drivers under 21 are not supposed to be drinking, you should be guilty of drunk driving if you are caught driving with any amount of alcohol in your system," Grant said.

"Because you must sacrifice more to comply with the law, we should expect some people will just give up trying to satisfy the law and drink more," he said.

But Grant found this did not happen.

"Instead, among drivers involved in traffic accidents, there is the same fraction of heavy drinkers, the same fraction of mild drinkers, the same fraction of nondrinkers," he said. "It's just not changing."

Grant also compared the blood alcohol distributions of involved drivers in the two years before zero tolerance laws were established in each state, and again in the two years after. The two distributions were also virtually identical.

"That's a sign that this law is essentially inert; if it's affecting the amount of drinking that people do, these distributions should look different," he said. Grant's colleague at Sam Houston State and fellow economist, Donald Freeman, completed a similar study in 2007 that yielded similar results regarding a related law that lowered the allowable blood alcohol limit for adult drivers. That paper was published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Sam Houston State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Sam Houston State University. "Zero Tolerance, Zero Effect, Says Expert." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090916173336.htm>.
Sam Houston State University. (2009, September 17). Zero Tolerance, Zero Effect, Says Expert. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090916173336.htm
Sam Houston State University. "Zero Tolerance, Zero Effect, Says Expert." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090916173336.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins