The primary purpose of the presentation is to provide a follow-up to a peer reviewed paper published in January 2021 that described an evaluation conducted on underage drinking enforcement and media efforts in South Carolina. The evaluation covered FY 2006 through FY 2016, and the follow-up covers 2017 through 2022. The paper was titled “Alcohol Compliance Checks and Underage Alcohol-Involved Crashes: Evaluation of a Statewide Enforcement Program in South Carolina from 2006 to 2016” and was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
Overall, the 2021 longitudinal study showed a decline in drinking and driving crashes for drivers under 21 when compliance checks increased. In FY 2006 (July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006), the buy rate was 22%; FY 2020 (July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020), the buy rate was 6.1%. Traffic crashes related to under-21-year-old impaired drivers decreased by 18 to 29% over the ten years of enforcement.
During the COVID pandemic that resulted in a lockdown ordered by South Carolina Governor McMasters beginning in mid-March 2020, compliance checks in South Carolina temporarily ended. Traffic crashes decreased due to reduced traffic flow directly related to the lockdown. As Governor McMasters relieved lockdown conditions, traffic crashes rose. As law enforcement restarted compliance check enforcement in South Carolina, non-compliance rates, often called the buy rate, were found to be higher than in the past several years.
The follow-up study focuses on FY 2017 through FY 2022, emphasizing FY 2021, when alcohol compliance checks were the lowest in South Carolina. Additionally, compliance check data from the Sober Truth in Preventing (STOP) Underage Drinking Act state survey responses from the other SAMHSA Region 4 (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee) will be compared to South Carolina data.
The presentation will provide insights gathered from law enforcement officers and prevention specialists involved in underage drinking enforcement, public education, and media efforts working in South Carolina during the COVID pandemic. The information can assist in implementing environmental strategies meant to reduce underage consumption of alcohol.