Effects of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age on the Blood Alcohol Levels of Victims of Violent Death Ages 18-23 in Maryland




Ainsworth, Stephanie A.

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The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Act is the most widely studied alcohol control policy in the United States. Despite this attention, however, inconsistencies remain among findings in previous literature. It is largely accepted that the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Act was responsible for a considerable decrease in traffic-related teen fatalities, but little is known about its effectiveness in reducing homicides, suicides, and non-traffic accidents, the other leading causes of death among 18-23 year-olds in the United States. Moreover, most of the research that has been conducted thus far has been on a national scale using aggregate data for the U.S. The present analysis uses state-level data to analyze the effects of the minimum legal drinking age change on blood alcohol levels of victims of violent death in the state of Maryland. Data consists of all violent deaths of victims ages 18-23 in the state from one year before to one year after the minimum legal drinking age change. Using logistic regression and ANOVA, the data was analyzed for an interaction between age and the implementation of the minimum legal drinking age change. Although in the expected direction, results indicate that changing the minimum legal drinking age was not a significant factor in reducing violent deaths among the target population. These findings suggest that the minimum legal drinking age may have not have influenced traffic fatalities as was originally believed. Policy implications of these findings are further discussed.



Alcohol consumption, Traffic deaths, Violent death, Blood alcohol content, Drinking age