Friday, April 29, 2011

Mandated Exclusion from Alcohol

An underused tool for drug regulation is to revoke (for some period of time) a person's right to consume a drug, if that person has previously been violent or otherwise seriously misbehaved under the influence of the drug. Drunk drivers often lose their right to drive, but not their right to drink. In the case of repeat DWI offenders, South Dakota has a program that is effective at removing the privilege to consume alcohol. One can imagine that people might sign up for voluntary alcohol exclusion or limitation (as they do for gambling), if the implementation (including enforcement) of the exclusion were not too onerous. I think that many people would welcome a cheap, transparent, easy-functioning ignition interlock device in their car, too -- most people (when non-intoxicated) are not anxious to drive when they are unsafe or liable for arrest, though they might drive drunk anyway in the absence of an enforceable pre-commitment. (OK, "pre-commitment" is sort of a redundancy, but it is a popular one!)

An important 1933 book on alcohol policy, by Fosdick and Scott, includes (page 49) some information about exclusion. They are outlining how they think legal licensed alcohol sellers should be regulated following the (then imminent) demise of Prohibition. (Fosdick and Scott prefer state monopoly stores to licensed sellers for distilled alcohol, but they nevertheless provide detailed suggestions for how a licensing system might best be implemented.) "Rules are also necessary forbidding sale to minors, habitual alcoholics, paupers, mental defectives and to anyone who is drunk." The quoted sentence concludes with a footnote, which among other things indicates that Rhode Island has a law in which "an order of interdiction is prescribed for persons receiving town aid and for those whose relatives have filed complaint." That is, the Rhode Island alcohol law exhibited features that are replicated in current gambling regulations in Singapore.

My interest in mandated as well as voluntary exclusion derives in large measure by my belief that the (future) regulatory system for currently-prohibited drugs should, in many instances, include these elements.

No comments:

Post a Comment