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Study finds higher alcohol taxes results in fewer fatal wrecks

Georgia residents may be interested to learn of a recent study that found a sharp decline in drunk driving fatal accidents following a modest tax increase on alcohol. The study's authors reviewed data from Illinois, both prior to and after the state had increased its taxes on beer, wine and liquor.

Illinois increased alcohol taxes in 2009, with the tax on beer increased by 4.6 cents for each gallon, on wine by 66 cents and on liquor by $4.05 per gallon. Following the tax hike, Illinois experienced a 26 percent decline in the number of drunk driving fatalities. The decline was most stark for younger drivers, who demonstrated a fall of 37 percent, while extremely drunk drivers demonstrated a decline of 25 percent.

The study controlled for other factors, such as weather and road conditions, in order to determine whether the decrease was due to the tax change itself. The authors reported that the declines were caused by the increased tax rate. It is unclear whether the decline may also have had to do with the fact that the tax rates went up during the recession when people had less disposable income.

The study's authors indicated they believe thousands of lives could be saved each year if other states choose to increase their own taxes on alcohol. Illinois's significant decline in drunk driving fatalities demonstrates that taxes may be beneficial in keeping people from getting behind the wheel after drinking too much alcohol. In the event someone is injured or killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, either the injured person or the family of the person who died may want to consult with a personal injury attorney to determine the remedies that may be available to recoup the losses that have been sustained.

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