Underage drinking laws reduce future criminal behavior

Feb 23, 2012

Do strict underage drinking laws really have a positive impact on society? A recent study finds that strictly enforcing possession of alcohol under the legal age or PULA (also known as PAULA) laws on teenagers reduces the likelihood that they will engage in alcohol-related crime as adults. This study was documented in the article "The Relationship between Underage Alcohol Possession and Future Criminal Behavior: An Empirical Analysis Using Age-Period Cohort Characteristics Models," published in SAGE Open.

Authors Chris Barnum, Nick Richardson, and Robert J. Perfetti stated that policy makers have relied heavily upon the strict enforcement of zero-tolerance PULA laws to control the access of alcohol to juveniles. For example, in the state of Washington, minors who are caught possessing alcohol are charged with a misdemeanor and are forced to pay a fine of up to $5,000 with the possibility of going to jail for a year. Barnum, Richardson, and Perfetti set out to determine if the enforcement of laws such as these really is effective.

Using data of 15 to 24 year olds from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports from 1975 to 2006, the researchers found that teens who had been subjected to strict enforcement of PULA laws were arrested less frequently for and assaults as than teens who had experienced more lenient enforcement of such laws.

"These findings have important potential implications for public policy," wrote the authors, "If tough enforcement of underage drinking by 15 – 20 year olds has an enduring impact on behavior, then law enforcement's efforts in imposing underage possession laws may be instrumental in reducing both adolescent and subsequent adult drinking and intoxication."

Barnum, Richardson, and Perfetti claimed that a secondary benefit of widely enforcing PULA laws is that it shapes the attitudes and behaviors of the peers of those who are publicly arrested.

The authors wrote, "Young people who are caught and punished for underage possession are less likely to drink in the future than others, and the example of their punishment also serves as a disincentive for their peers."

Explore further: Non-citizens face harsher sentencing than citizens in US criminal courts

More information: The article entitled "The Relationship between Underage Alcohol Possession and Future Criminal Behavior: An Empirical Analysis Using Age-Period Cohort Characteristics Models" published in SAGE Open, is available free at: sgo.sagepub.com/content/early/… 438561.full.pdf+html

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New research links teen alcohol use with suicide

Feb 04, 2008

Pre-teens who drink alcohol are substantially more likely to be involved in violent behavior as adolescents and young adults, according to new research from Georgia State University's Institute of Public Health.

Study: Regulate alcohol marketing

May 02, 2006

The U.S. alcohol industry snares too many underage drinkers and its marketing practices should be federally regulated, a Columbia University study concludes.

Recommended for you

Power can corrupt even the honest

6 hours ago

When appointing a new leader, selectors base their choice on several factors and typically look for leaders with desirable characteristics such as honesty and trustworthiness. However once leaders are in power, can we trust ...

Learning at 10 degrees north

7 hours ago

Secluded beaches, calypso music and the entertaining carnival are often what come to mind when thinking of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. But Dal Earth Sciences students might first consider Trinidad's ...

How to find the knowns and unknowns in any research

9 hours ago

Have you ever felt overloaded by information? Ever wondered how to make sense of claims and counter-claims about a topic? With so much information out there on many different issues, how is a person new to ...

Minorities energize US consumer market, according to report

9 hours ago

The buying power of minority groups in the U.S. has reached new heights and continues to outpace cumulative inflation, according to the latest Multicultural Economy Report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (2) Feb 24, 2012
welcome to the new norm of applied facisim