• The Effects of the 2011 Maryland Alcohol Sales Tax Increase on Alcohol-Impaired Drivers Involved in Fatal and Non-Fatal Crashes.

      Lavoie, Marie-Claude; Smith, Gordon S., M.B., Ch.B., M.P.H. (2016)
      Background: Increasing alcohol excise taxes has been shown to reduce alcohol-impaired driving. However, no study has examined the effects of increasing alcohol sales tax on motor vehicle injuries. Objectives: The aims of this study were to evaluate the effects of the 2011 Maryland alcohol sales tax increase on the rates of (a) alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, (b) alcohol-involved drivers in fatal crashes, (c) alcohol-involved drivers in all-injury crashes (nonfatal and fatal), and (d) different age groups of alcohol-involved drivers in all-injury crashes. Methods: We used a time series study to analyze data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the Maryland Automated Accident Reporting System from 2001 to 2013 using a generalized estimating equations model with a negative binomial distribution and log link. Results: For fatal motor vehicle crashes there was no immediate significant change in the rates of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities (rate ratio [RR]: 1.13, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.98-1.13) and alcohol-involved drivers (RR: 1.06, 95% CI: 0.96-1.11) with BAC>0.08 g/dL after the 2011 alcohol sales tax increase. However, there was a significantly larger gradual decline in the rates of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes, and alcohol-related fatalities with BAC>0.08 g/dL following the 2011 alcohol sales tax increase (p-value for trend change=0.03). For all-injury crashes among younger drivers ages 15 to 20, and 21 to 34, we observed a significantly larger gradual decline in the rate of alcohol-involved drivers after the 2011 alcohol sales tax increase (p-value for trend change<0.01); however, there was still no significant immediate reduction in rates. Conclusion: There was no immediate reduction in the rate of alcohol-impaired driving or alcohol-related fatalities following the 2011 alcohol sales tax but we did observe a larger gradual decline in rates for alcohol-impaired drivers and alcohol-related fatalities with BAC>0.08 g/dL. Drivers aged 15 to 34 appear to be more sensitive to a 3% tax increase in comparison to drivers aged 35 and over. Increasing the alcohol sales tax can be an effective means to save lives and prevent injuries from alcohol-impaired driving.