Sunday Alcohol Sales May Be a Step in the Wrong Direction


February 21, 2012

Despite the enormous number of car accidents caused by drunk drivers, there have been substantial gains made in recent years to reduce the number of drunken driving accidents linked to tougher drunk driving laws, stricter enforcement and efforts aimed at curbing teen drunk driving.

Despite these positive changes, it is reasonable to assume that we may have taken a step in the wrong direction with the current change repealing Sunday prohibition and permitting closed package alcohol sales on Sunday. Two months ago marked the first time businesses in certain Georgia cities could sell closed package alcohol on Sundays. The new policy permits the sale of alcohol in Clayton, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Fulton and DeKalb counties by grocery stores, convenience stores and liquor stores.

Approximately fifty Georgia cities approved Sunday alcohol sales in November 8 referendums following Georgia’s elimination of the statewide ban on Sunday alcohol sales subject to approval of local voters. Votes were held in 128 cities with 105 approving Sunday alcohol sales. A significant number of cities near Atlanta were among those that approved Sunday alcohol sales including: Alpharetta, Auburn, Avondale Estates, Braselton, College Park, Duluth, East Point, Grayson, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Snellville, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, Union City, Villa Rica and Woodstock. While Atlanta also authorized the sale of alcohol on Sundays, the change did not become effective until January 1, 2012.

The data on the impact of the repeal of Blue Laws, which prohibit alcohol sales on Sundays, on car accident rates and traffic-related fatalities is mixed. A study conducted in New Mexico between 1990 and 2000 was designed to estimate the impact of the repeal of the state law prohibiting Sunday alcohol sales in 1995. The study revealed that the accident rate on Sundays increased by 29 percent after the ban was lifted. It is even more concerning that the number of alcohol-related fatalities increased during the same period by 42 percent. While these results suggest a drastic increase in alcohol-related car accidents, other studies have reached different conclusions. A subsequent study conducted by U.C. Irvine of car accident rates in the province of Ontario after repealing the prohibition on the Sunday sale of packaged alcohol found only minor increases in car accident rates.

While the evidence is somewhat ambiguous regarding whether expanding Sunday alcohol sales increase drunken driving-related accidents and fatalities, any correlation should be carefully monitored. The increased availability of alcohol may lead to more DUI/DWI-related car accidents. If this happens, it may be appropriate for Georgia to reconsider its recent prioritization of alcohol availability over public safety. If you or someone you love is the victim of a drunken driver, our experienced Atlanta drunk driving accident attorneys may be able to seek the justice and financial compensation that you need and deserve. A drunken driver that causes a car accident in Atlanta, which results in serious injury or wrongful death, may also be subject to punitive damages for his or her extremely reckless conduct.

Our Georgia drunk driving accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online.

Category: Auto Accidents

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