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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

PIRE admits keg registration doesn't work!

Amazing! In an article that's so new I can't even find it online*, keg registration is found to have no effect in reducing underage drinking and driving fatalities. That's actually admitted in a press release put out by the Substance Abuse Prevention Research Program today. It's not the main thrust of the article; that's about laws that do work. (BTW, I contacted the folks who put out the release: you'll find the full cite below.)

Sorry this is kind of disorganized, but it's wild to see that right there in the middle of the press release, James Fell of PIRE (Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, noted New Dry screamers) says “We didn’t find that laws mandating that beer kegs be registered to the purchaser made any difference in reducing underage drinking and driving fatal crashes. In fact with this particular law, we saw 12 percent more drinking-related traffic fatalities amongst those under 21.” Keg registration doesn't work, dopes, I've been saying that for years!

It's almost as interesting to note the main point of the piece. According to their research, the most effective laws in preventing underage drinking-and-driving fatalities are: the 0.08 BAC DUI law, automatic license suspension for driving with 0.08 BAC, primary offense seatbelt laws (allowing officers to pull drivers over for failure to wear seatbelts, not just citing them for it if they find it after pullovers for other reasons), and the 21 LDA. I'm not getting into the LDA law, but I will note that the other three laws affect all ages of drinking-and-driving. I'd also like to know the difference they found between fatalities under 0.1 BAC laws and 0.08 laws, whether individual state drinking culture/attitudes or enforcement budgets and priorities were taken into account, but if I ever see the article, there will be time for that.

For now, could we get the main message out? Stop wasting time and money and effort on keg registration laws, because they don't work. Period. Tell your legislators. I already have, and as I said in that e-mail, "I'm against keg registration laws because they are unfair to beer drinkers, they are a bureaucratic annoyance, and they are invasive of privacy. But primarily, I am against them because they don't work, and I would much rather see the Commonwealth spend what money and effort we have on programs that DO work."

*I'm not the only one who can't find the article: SAPRP was so excited to get this press release out the door that it includes neither the title of the article or the authors, exactly the kind of sloppy research we're all familiar with from the New Drys, and thanks for keeping the faith, guys. It's also interesting to see that the only person quoted in the press release is a researcher from PIRE. Is Fell one of the authors? [yes, see below] Maybe, but the inkslingers at SAPRP fail to make that clear. Good job, folks.

Just more proof that there is a vast, New Dry conspiracy, connected by funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and they maintain separate agencies and foundations in part to look more numerous and important (and believable) than they are, and quote and comment on each other to look smarter. Even if the newspapers aren't on to this scam, I am.

I also have the full cite for the article: The Impact of Underage Drinking Laws on Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes of Young Drivers, in the online version of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (though it doesn't appear to actually be up yet), authored by James C. Fell, M.S., Deborah A. Fisher, Ph.D., Robert B. Voas, Ph.D., Kenneth Blackman, M.S., A. Scott Tippetts, B.A. The authors, BTW, are all members of PIRE; I've seen Voas's work before.


Unknown said...

Just google that quote and you get this:

Lew Bryson said...

Same press release, different URL, Ryan. Still no title or authors. I'm contacting them to try to get a full cite.

Rich said...

Is there currently legislation (or fear of) for keg registration in PA being discussed somewhere?

Zach said...

Does keg registration help prevent keg theft and reselling, and if so are you still against it?

sam k said...

Zach, keg theft and reselling has become almost non-existent with the precipitious drop in scrap prices from historic highs a couple of years ago.

Regarding the effectiveness of eliminating drunks by restricting kegs, we have our own local example of failure here in State College.

Years ago, the university decided that kegs in fraternities had to go, and they were banned entirely. When a group of guys buys kegs for a party, those kegs have to be kept cold until consumed, and require the participation of a lot of partiers to kick them , so kegs bought on Friday were gone by Sunday. Weekend festivities over...back to class!

Now, the frats buy cases of cans in PALLET QUANTITIES, which qualifies them for what are essentially tavern discounts from the retailers. Those cases last for months, and can be stashed in Johnny's closet, and Ed's closet, and drunk all week (sort of like the frat boys themselves!), regardless of the day of the week.

Let's not even start the discussion of how much more green-friendly one keg is versus hundreds of cans!

Lew Bryson said...

Sam's right on that, Zach: keg theft is nowhere near the problem it was. The BA also did a good job working with scrap dealers.
And keg registration does bring problems with it, too. The problems Sam mentions, plus a lot of times underage drinkers will just go to something more portable, more potent, more concealable: liquor -- which they often are inexperienced with -- or drugs -- which can mean hard jail time. Great unintended consequences.

Rich, yes, there is a keg registration bill under consideration, in committee, I think. There is every year. I do what I can to help kill it. I really wish this study would put a stake through its heart...but I ain't holding my breath.

Harry Spade said...

Here's a recent article about the latest keg registration bill-

MatthewShaw said...

I always thought this practice was a little ridiculous, too. I mean, kids today don't buy kegs -- they're expensive, hard to hide, and you need to throw a big conspicuous party in order to get through it all in a weekend. They can stash cans and bottles anywhere. And really, the odds just work against keg registration: first you have to find the party, then track the keg back to the store, where the paperwork may or may not be organized, and sift through the mountains of keg-related paperwork to find the one piece of paper that has a number that matches the keg sticker; meanwhile, you've already busted the kids with the keg, so there's really no incentive to go digging through all that paper.

Lew Bryson said...

I disagree! Kids ARE smart enough to buy kegs, just as I am, because while they're a pain to hoist around, they're a LOT cheaper per unit. But if the kid's smart enough to get a keg, they're smart enough to NOT get a keg when it's got a tag on it. That's what bugs me.