Could Liquor Privatization Save Lives?

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

HARRISBURG – It turns out, privatizing liquor sales doesn’t kill people after all—despite hysterical claims made by government unions last month. In fact, new data show drunk driving collisions actually decreased in Washington state after it privatized its liquor system.

This spring, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) blanketed the state with TV and radio ads implying liquor privatization would lead to increased DUI deaths. The emotionally manipulative ads, featuring a young girl whose father was killed by a drunk driver, were mocked across the state and made national news for their absurdity.

Today, the Commonwealth Foundation highlighted data obtained from Washington state—which privatized liquor sales just over one year ago—showing a decline in DUI collisions in the past year.

Nathan Benefield, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation, writes in a blog post on the subject, "Data from the Washington State Patrol show that DUI collisions declined by 9 percent over the previous 12 months. That translates to 229 fewer accidents in the course of a year. DUI arrests declined by nearly the same 9 percent."

Where Does Pennsylvania Stand Currently?

• Higher than the national average in alcohol-related traffic fatalities per capita

• Higher than the national average in accidents related to DUIs (source: MADD)

• Middle of the pack in total DUI rates and other measures of social impacts

Nathan commented further:

"I think we all recognized the ads at the time for what they were—a cheap scare tactic to advance a political agenda. We knew then that the dubious claims they made were baseless, but the latest data should be a nail in the coffin for the myth that privatization jeopardizes public safety."

Though spikes in DUI deaths as a result of liquor privatization were predicted for Washington state, the results prove such speculations unwarranted. Gov. Corbett and Pennsylvania legislators should learn from that state’s experience and refuse to be bullied by unfounded claims concocted by special interests benefitting from the government liquor monopoly.

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For more information, please contact John Bouder, Communications Officer at 717-671-1901 or [email protected].
The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.