Alcohol-Related Arrests Decrease After Liquor Privatization - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Alcohol-Related Arrests Continue to Decrease After Liquor Privatization in Washington State

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Alcohol related arrests continue to be on the decline after voters decided to end the 78-year-old government monopoly on selling liquor. Alcohol related arrests continue to be on the decline after voters decided to end the 78-year-old government monopoly on selling liquor.

NBCRightnow.com - Alcohol related arrests continue to be on the decline after voters decided to end the 78-year-old government monopoly on selling liquor.

In 2011, when 59% of Washington state voters approved Initiative 1183, opponents said privatization would lead to an increase in alcohol-related arrests. But so far, it hasn't.

According to the Washington State Patrol, most state alcohol-related arrests continue to trend downward, including in the first year since voters privatized state liquor sales. The private sale of liquor in Washington resumed on June 1, 2012.

WSP data shows there were 2,861 DUI collisions and 21,941 DUI arrests during the 2008-09 time period. Under the first year of privatization those numbers were down to 2,347 DUI collisions and 19,703 DUI arrests. Statistics for "minor in possession" showed an even bigger improvement with 1,483 cases between 2008-09 dropping to 777 during 2012-13.

Another concern expressed by opponents of privatization was that private store employees would not be able to do as good of a job as the government stores in preventing sales to minors. With the passage of I-1183 the Washington State Liquor Control Board touted the 94% compliance rate of no-sale-to-minors at state-run stores.

Even though concerns have been expressed about minors stealing liquor at private stores, hard data does not exist to document the extent of any problem. Recent legislative work sessions have focused on this question and retailers have testified that shoplifting prevention efforts has improved since private sales began.

Even with privatization, Washington State alcohol-related arrests have been trending down. This positive trend has not been reversed, as was predicted by privatization opponents. While more work can always be done to improve public safety, the data indicates the private sale of liquor has not resulted in an increase in the number of alcohol-related arrests.

While opponents were worried about the alcohol-related arrests, supporters underestimated the amount of revenue that would be generated from private liquor sales. This can partly be attributed to the fact that Washington State has the highest liquor taxes in the country. With most state alcohol related arrests decreasing, lawmakers may now want to consider whether liquor fees and taxes are too high. 

Either way, Washington Policy Center says "as far as alcohol related arrests are concerned, liquor privatization in Washington is on a successful path."

 

Period (June to June)

DUI Collisions

DUI Arrests

Drink in Public

Interlock Device DUI

Open Container

Minor in Possession

Liquor to Minor

2008-09

2,861

21,941

19

447

2,223

1,483

57

2009-10

2,584

21,057

30

486

1,679

1,289

45

2010-11

2,586

22,227

41

595

1,469

989

41

2011-12

2,576

21,577

30

778

1,382

1,010

26

2012-13

2,347

19,703

42

917

1,106

777

19

 

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