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Group Says Privatization of Liquor Industry Did Not Increase DUIs or Accidents

Privatization of liquor stores didn't bring dire results
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Back in 2011 a huge scare tactic used to oppose the closing of state liquor stores was teenage drinking would skyrocket, DUI rates would increase, as would alcoholism. A new report challenges those assertions.

The claims were made by groups representing state liquor store workers to oppose Washington joining 33 other states in privatizing the liquor industry. However, a check of Washington State Patrol statistics shows the number of DUI arrests and accidents has actually declined.

The Washington Policy Center obtained state patrol information showing DUI accidents and arrests dating from June 1 of last year through June 30, 2013 compared with the previous reporting period of 2011-2012. They show:

  • Collisions: 2,576 vs. 2,347
  • DUI Arrests: 21,577 vs. 19,703

While these numbers are still too high to be acceptable, they show declines instead of what was claimed by those who opposed privatization.    

In fact, the number of DUI collisions in our state has dropped steadily since 2008.  The number of DUI arrests rose slightly, then fell again, but the center attributes that to increased emphasis patrols that have resulted in fewer drivers choosing to drive while intoxicated.

Opponents of privatization also warned state tax revenues from liquor would plummet if the state stores were phased out. Actual numbers for the first half of 2013 and projections show a significantly higher tax revenue than before under the old state store system.

The Tax Foundation figures also show this is despite Washington state having the highest alcohol taxes in the entire U.S.! We pay an average of $35.22 in taxes per gallon for every purchase. The second highest? Oregon at $22.73. The lowest?  New Hampshire and Vermont who don’t have such taxes!

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