Car Crashes, Fatalities Rise Sharply with New Mexico Sunday Package Liquor Sales

Studying the effect of Sunday package alcohol sales on alcohol-related crashes and crash fatalities in New Mexico

Researchers at the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest analyzed alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes that occurred in New Mexico between July 1, 1990, and June 30, 2000, to:

  • Estimate the effects of a 1995 law legalizing Sunday packaged alcohol sales on alcohol-related motor vehicle crash rates and fatalities in New Mexico.
  • Determine the extent to which demographic and geographic patterns moderate the effects of Sunday sales on crash and fatality rates.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (for more information see Program Results).

Key Findings:

  • Both alcohol-related crashes and alcohol-related crash fatalities occurring between noon on Sunday and noon on Monday increased (by 29 and 42%, respectively) after the 1995 law allowed packaged alcohol to be sold on Sundays.
  • Counties whose largest communities exercised the legislative option to disallow Sunday packaged alcohol sales had the lowest relative increase in alcohol-related crashes on Sundays.