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J Stud Alcohol. 2000 May;61(3):402-12.

Reducing harmful alcohol-related behaviors: effective regulatory methods.

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  • 1Center for Health Policy, Law and Management, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA.



This article examines the effects of tort liability, criminal law, administrative regulation, price and availability of alcohol, and personal and state characteristics on the decisions to engage in heavy episodic drinking and to drink and drive.


Individual behavior data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveys (1984-95) were used in a logit analysis of the probability that a respondent engaged in heavy episodic drinking (n = 86,273), drinking and driving (n = 87,087) and drinking and driving if also a heavy episodic drinker (n = 22,261).


Imposing tort liability on bars reduced self-reported incidents of drunk driving among all drinkers (p = .043) but did not reduce the probability of heavy episodic drinking or drinking and driving among heavy drinkers. In this first national study of the impact of social host liability, we found that such liability lowered the self-reported probability of heavy episodic drinking (p = .0004) and drinking and driving among all drinkers (p = .0005).


Although several criminal and administrative regulations were also effective in reducing heavy episodic drinking and drunk driving, the imposition of tort liability represents a useful addition to the arsenal of alcohol-control policies.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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