Blue Laws and Fatal Vehicle Accidents: Do State-Level Sunday Sales Bans of Alcohol Provide a Secular Benefit by Reducing Fatal Crashes?
|Title||Blue Laws and Fatal Vehicle Accidents: Do State-Level Sunday Sales Bans of Alcohol Provide a Secular Benefit by Reducing Fatal Crashes?|
|Year of Publication||2009|
|Academic Department||Public Policy|
|Number of Pages||56|
|Keywords||Alcohol, Automobile Crashes, Beer, Blue Laws, Distilled Spirits, Establishment Clause, Lemon Test, Sunday Sales Ban|
Blue laws have been enacted for hundreds of years to restrict commercial activities on Sundays. Today, restrictions on alcohol sales are one of the most common forms of blue law and remain a source of conflict given their basis in Christian ideas. In this paper, I estimate the effect of these laws on fatal automobile crashes. The analysis suggests that repealing an alcohol blue law is accompanied by a 7.4% increase in fatal crashes on Sunday. My study also finds that enforcing a law requiring seat belt use reduces fatal crashes by 5.0%. These results are then used in a discussion of whether the laws provide a compelling public benefit in relation to a constitutional test used by the Supreme Court. The results indicate that blue laws do provide a legitimate public benefit, but it is not apparent that this benefit justifies alcohol-related blue laws, as other traffic-safety laws may yield similar effects.