2017 brings with it a new set of legislation passed last year by state lawmakers. It is worth examining how these laws could affect the daily lives of Coloradans beyond the black and white language in the statutes. One law related to alcohol sales will increase the availability of beer with a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) content.
Under the new law, grocery stores can have up to five locations sell beer, wine and liquor without relying on a separate liquor store. Additionally, the state is repealing its 3.2 beer law by 2019, meaning regular-ABV beer will be more widely available throughout the state. Many businesses and consumers see the new regulations as a way to better meet market demand for alcohol.
Should safety concerns increase with wider availability?
However, with an increase in alcohol availability comes an increased concern for safety. How does wider access to alcohol affect drinking and driving rates? 2016 may already be remembered as one of the worst years for drinking and driving. Could an increased availability of alcohol lead to higher rates of drinking and driving?
Colorado makes for an interesting case study due to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. People over the age of 21 tend to substitute the use of alcohol for marijuana. Additionally, states that have enacted recreational marijuana laws have seen a drop in the rate of fatal car accidents.
Alcohol still plays a large factor in fatal car accidents
Drivers and safety experts may take solace in the fact that an increase in the availability of alcohol could be mitigated by the substitution for marijuana. The evidence is inconclusive when examining whether the increased availability of alcohol leads to higher rates of drinking driving, but alcohol’s role in fatal car accidents remains pervasive.
Alcohol played a factor in nearly one-third of all motor vehicle accident deaths in 2014, according to the Center for Disease Control. Further, alcohol-related crashes cost Americans more than $44 million annually. A car accident that results in injuries can cost involved parties more than $60,000. Worse yet, a car accident that causes death can total more than one million dollars in funeral and insurance-related costs.
Given the costs associated with motor vehicle accidents, how can Coloradans hold drivers accountable for their wrongful actions on the road? Criminal courts will hold drivers responsible for public wrongs, but those penalties cannot account for a victim’s medical bills or pain and suffering. Fortunately, injured drivers and their loved ones can use civil litigation and the help of a personal injury attorney to seek compensation.