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When it comes to drugs and underage alcohol consumption, is a higher risk of police intervention a stronger incentive to keep from abusing? The answer, you might have guessed, is a resounding ‘yes.’ What we’re not entirely sure about is exactly how effective, and does the effectiveness dissipate the further away the authorities are. A recent study conducted by Darin J. Erickson et al. of University of Minnesota and published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reveals the answer to the question: do alcohol-compliance checks decrease underage sales at neighboring establishments?

Gathering data from over 2,000 compliance checks conducted at over 900 establishments (with the help of the Complying with the Minimum Age Drinking trial), the primary discovery was that many of these businesses were selling alcoholic beverages to many patrons (who may or may not have been underage) without asking for ID first. With this in mind, the team set up a model made up of concentric rings to gauge the effects of these compliance checks on establishments of up to 500 meters within the initial location.

The results were markedly clear, the team reporting:

We observed a decrease in the likelihood of establishments selling alcohol to underage youth after they had been checked by law enforcement, but these effects quickly decayed over time. Establishments that had a close neighbor (within 125 m) checked in the past 90 days were also less likely to sell alcohol to young-appearing buyers. The spatial effect of compliance checks on other establishments decayed rapidly with increasing distance.

With this evidence in hand, we can only hope that the proper authorities are taking steps to ramp up their presence in communities where alcohol sales to minors are common.

What do you think?