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How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?

Steven D. Levitt and Jack Porter
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 109, No. 6 (December 2001), pp. 1198-1237
DOI: 10.1086/323281
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/323281
Page Count: 40
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How Dangerous Are Drinking Drivers?
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Abstract

We present a methodology for measuring the risks posed by drinking drivers that relies solely on readily available data on fatal crashes. The key to our identification strategy is a hidden richness inherent in two‐car crashes. Drivers with alcohol in their blood are seven times more likely to cause a fatal crash; legally drunk drivers pose a risk 13 times greater than sober drivers. The externality per mile driven by a drunk driver is at least 30 cents. At current enforcement rates the punishment per arrest for drunk driving that internalizes this externality would be equivalent to a fine of $8,000.

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