Although most research on the effect of minimum legal drinking age (LDA) laws on proxies for alcohol-related fatalities find effects of higher LDAs in reducing such fatalities, recent research that supposedly controls for drinking experience claims that higher LDAs have little or no effect. This study examines the actual amount of alcohol in the blood of fatally injured drivers per licensed driver in states where more than 80 percent of such drivers were tested for alcohol and where licensure data were available for the period 1982–1986, The involvement of alcohol in fatal crashes increases with age as the LDA is approached. A higher LDA is associated with fewer alcohol-related crashes among those younger than the LDA. No effect of drinking experience was evident, but this study finds an age-related bias in previously used proxies for alcohol involvement that results in overestimates of alcohol levels in younger drivers.

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