Alcohol Arrests — 2005-08

In politics, scaring people always seems to work. Our opponents love to say that allowing wine in food stores will lead to a rash of alcohol offenses — those infamous “street drinkers” — especially by teenagers who will begin coveting wine.

The only way to fight back are facts.

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports are the most consistent arrest reporting locality to locality and state to state. UCRs capture three types of alcohol offenses: DUI, liquor laws, and drunkenness. The reports then break down the offenses by all ages and under 18.


We’ll open our case with all alcohol offenses for all ages.

The table below shows the offenses per capita (per 100,000 residents) from 2005 to 2008 as divided by the 33 states allowing wine sales in retail food stores versus the 17 that do not.

  2005 2006 2007 2008
States allowing wine sales 872.48 891.63 908.36 922.98
States prohibiting wine sales 1,047.88 1,045.43 1,056.72 1,054.05
Tennessee 1,017.50 1,085.88 1,188.12 1,109.83

The data clearly shows no correlation between the sale of alcohol in food stores and alcohol offenses for all ages. Tennessee’s per capita average is above the national average as well.


OK, what about teenagers? Here’s the data:

  2005 2006 2007 2008
States allowing wine sales 66.16 71.85 77.93 75.84
States prohibiting wine sales 85.88 88.86 84.08 76.64
Tennessee 39.98 42.01 40.24 38.06

Once again, the data shows that states allowing wine sales in food stores have had fewer arrests per capita of teenagers than states prohibiting wine sales. That’s every year since 2005.

Tennessee is far below the national average in this category. Kudos to everyone who helped keep teenagers away from alcohol. That must be proof that we should keep wine out of the food stores, right? Nope. Sixteen states that allow wine sales, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, and Maryland, all had arrest rates lower than Tennessee.

Any way you cut it, there is no link between wines sales in food stores and liquor offenses.

Later this week, we’ll dive deeper into DUI arrests. Any guess on what we’ll find?


3 Responses to “Alcohol Arrests — 2005-08”


    This is the 21st century adapt to the times. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BUY LIQUOR AT A GROCERY STORE DON’T If the churches of Tenn are dictating policy and laws, maybe the legislators ought to removing their tax exempt status

  2. Charlotte Beals Says:

    Many persons never intended to become alcoholic, but once the first drink
    of wine or beer then comes the hard stuff.

    Yes, I am against ANY alcohol because my childhood and that of my brothers
    were ruined because of it.

    I do not want to have to walk around the stacks of wine when I shop for
    my groceries.

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