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In 2009, Illinois increased its excise tax on beer by 4.6 cents per gallon, on wine by 66 cents per gallon, and on liquor by $ 4.05 per gallon. That translates to bar patrons paying 1 cent more for every glass of beer and about 5 cents more for any mixed drink.
Investigators say their examination of traffic accident statistics after the tax was enacted indicate an overall decline of 26% in alcohol-related traffic deaths. The results show an even greater decline in drivers under the age of thirty of 37%. There was no statistically significant difference for gender or ethnicity. Rates for deadly crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers declined 22 percent, while the rate for excessively-impaired drivers declined 25 percent.
Alexander Wagenaar, a professor with the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy at the University of Florida believes instituting comparable taxes across the nation could preclude thousands of drunk driving accident fatalities every year.
However, David Ozgo, senior vice-president for economic and strategic analysis for the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, contends that alcohol-related deaths were in decline in Illinois prior to the tax being implemented.
He says the state experienced its single largest decline in eight years in 2008, before the tax increase went into effect. Additionally, he points out that Illinois ended its trend of reducing alcohol-related traffic fatalities faster than the national average after the tax increase.
Fatalities from alcohol-related traffic accidents have decreased 52 percent over the last twenty years from 21,113 in 1982 to 10,076 in 2013.
University of Florida researchers point out that, in recent decades, alcohol has become less expensive because of decreases in alcohol taxes. Study authors believe their findings corroborate what previous studies have found: that raising alcohol taxes reduces alcohol-related health issues. Furthermore, they believe their findings have determined that alcohol taxes affect all types of drunk drivers, even extremely impaired drivers.
Again, Ozgo contests their conclusions by pointing out that multiple studies have demonstrated those who abuse alcohol are undeterred by higher taxes. He references research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which shows that responsible consumers are most greatly impacted when alcohol taxes increase.
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