Alcohol Exclusion Laws were Passed to Reduce Alcohol Abuse.

Alcohol exclusion laws were passed in the late 1940s. They were to discourage people from abusing alcohol.


I.  Background

II. Unintended Consequences


IV. Laws Counterproductive

V.  State Laws

VI. Resources

Alcohol Exclusion Laws

I. Background

This saves insurance companies money. That’s because they can deny alcohol related medical claims. These claims could include traffic related or any other alcohol-related injury. But there was great hope that they would reduce drunk driving.1

The logic seemed reasonable. People would be less likely to drive drunk if insurance companies could deny their claims for that reason.

II. Unintended Consequences

But there is no evidence that these laws reduce drunk driving. But they do discourage hospitals from testing crash patients for alcohol. That’s because insurance companies can refuse to pay doctors and hospitals for treating patients who have alcohol in their bodies. In short, alcohol testing leads to lower doctor and hospital income.

The George Washington University Medical Center explains.

The Alcohol Exclusion Law helps drunk drivers escape detection and avoid taking personal responsibility for their drinking problem. This makes it more likely that drunk drivers will drive drunk again. That adds to the cost of the health care system. And it makes it more difficult for individuals who have problems with alcohol or drugs to access the treatment they need.2

In 2000, 40 states had these laws. One state prohibited alcohol exclusion. By 2015, 25 states permitted permitted exclusion and 17 prohibited it.3

III. Opposition to Alcohol Exclusion Laws

Not surprisingly the insurance industry supports alcohol and drug exclusion laws. They save the companies vast sums of money. But the National Association of Insurance Commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the repeal of such laws. That’s the group of those who regulate insurance companies.

Other groups that support the repeal of these laws include these.

IV. Laws are Counter Productive

Alcohol exclusion laws are counter productive. Here’s why.

Studies have shown that people who receive brief alcohol counseling in emergency rooms or trauma centers have 48 percent fewer readmissions to the hospital. They also have 28 fewer drinks per person per week. That’s compared to patients who do not receive counseling. For every $1 spent on alcohol counseling for injured patients, hospitals can expect to save $3.81. By discouraging screening and treatment, the Alcohol Exclusion Law leads to more hospital readmissions. To more DUIs and alcohol related traffic infractions. To more alcohol related arrests, and injury related hospital readmissions.5

V. State Laws

A. Alcohol and Drug Exclusion Laws Permitted
    • AL
    • AK
    • AZ
    • AR
    • DE
    • FLalcohol exclusion laws
    • GA
    • HI
    • ID
    • KS
    • KY
    • LA
    • ME
    • MS
    • MO
    • MT
    • NE
    • NJ
B. Alcohol and Drug Exclusion Laws Prohibited
    • CA
    • CO
    • CT
    • DC
    • ILalcohol exclusion laws
    • IN
    • IA
    • ME
    • MD
    • NE
    • NC
    • ND
    • OH
    • OR
    • RI
    • SD
    • WA
C. Alcohol and Drug Laws Neither Permitted nor Prohibited
    • MA
    • MI
    • MN
    • NH
    • NM
    • OKalcohol exclusion laws
    • TX
    • UT
    • VT
    • WI
    •  NY
    •  PA
    •  SC
    •  TN
    •  VA
    •  WV
    •  WY

It appears that alcohol exclusion laws may increase drunken driving instead of reducing it.

VI. Resources

    • Alcohol and drug exclusion laws are typically found in the Uniform Accident  and Sickness Policy Provisions (UPPL) of a state.
    1. Fact Sheet. George Washington U Med Cent.  Ensuring Solutions to Alcohol Problems site.
    2. Alco Pol Info Serv.
    3. Fact Sheet.
    4. Ibid.
    5. Ibid.