Alcohol-Related Problems Drop with Extended Drinking Hours

Great Britain recently liberalized alcohol laws by allowing 24 hour drinking. The result? In the three months after the law went into effect, alcohol-related crime and violence have dropped significantly over the same period last year. Serious violent crime has fallen over one-fifth (21%) and injuries have fallen 14%.

Licensing minister James Purnell said “The predictions that licensing reform would lead to an immediate upsurge in crime haven’t been borne out… It was always our argument that by getting rid of the firm 11 pm closing time you would get rid of a number of flashpoints.”

Police in South Wales said that the extra opening hours enabled officers to defuse problems before they escalated into violence. The reduction in alcohol-related problems has occurred across the entire country, from small resort towns to large industrial cities.

One pub owner explained that he is now rid of his “11 o’clockers,” who would order several drinks just before last orders. “It was anyone’s guess what happened when they went off,” he said.

The British experience is consistent with that of the United States. States with later last call for alcohol hours tend to have fewer alcohol-related traffic deaths, according to data collected by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Graph: Later last calls are safer


  • Gordon, Andrea. Young drivers go to pot. Toronto Star, February 10, 2006.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving