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Study shows increasing alcohol taxes could save lives

Ohio residents may be interested to learn that a new study shows increasing state alcohol taxes could prevent thousands of drunk driving fatalities each year. The research was published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

In August 2009, Illinois raised its excise tax on alcohol by .4 cents per glass of beer, .5 cents per glass of wine and 4.8 cents per glass of hard liquor. Using detailed records from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, researchers compared fatal crashes in the state from January 2001 to December 2011 to see what impact the tax increase had on alcohol-impaired accidents. They also took into account a driver's gender, age, race and blood alcohol content level at the time of the fatal crashes. As a control, fatal crash data from Wisconsin was also examined.

Overall, researchers found that fatal alcohol-related crashes in Illinois decreased by 26 percent after the tax increase. Fatal crashes among young people decreased by 37 percent, and deadly crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers and extremely drunk drivers dropped by 22 and 25 percent.

Given the results, the authors of the study believe affordable booze is contributing to the nearly 10,000 deaths and half a million injuries caused by alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. each year. Taking inflation into account, alcohol is substantially cheaper in the U.S. than it was 60 years ago. The researchers believe fatalities would decrease nationwide if all 50 states increased alcohol taxes.

Regardless of the affordability of alcohol, people continue to drive while they are impaired. Ohio residents injured in drunk driving car accidents may wish to seek the advice of an attorney. It may be possible in a successful personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver to obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.

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