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)
Drink in Public
Interlock Device DUI
Minor in Possession
Liquor to Minor