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Dry Counties and the Failed Legacy of Prohibition: A Closer Look at DUI Rates

Prohibition, a historical chapter that aimed to curb alcohol consumption in the United States, is often remembered as a colossal failure. While it officially ended in 1933, remnants of this era persist as “dry counties,” where alcohol sales are prohibited. In this piece, we will examine the influence of dry counties on DUI rates, highlighting studies that shed light on the consequences of such alcohol restrictions.

The Legacy of Prohibition

From 1920 to 1933, Prohibition sought to achieve various objectives, including reducing crime, solving social issues, alleviating prison overcrowding, and promoting public health. Paradoxically, it achieved quite the opposite results, giving rise to a thriving underground alcohol market, organized crime, and widespread disregard for the law.

Dry Counties: A Modern Remnant of Prohibition

While Colorado doesn’t have dry counties, some neighboring states, like Kansas and others in the southern United States, maintain this archaic alcohol regulation. Despite their historical roots, dry counties have been subject to studies that question their effectiveness in achieving their intended goals.

Dry Counties and DUI Rates

Research has consistently shown that dry counties do not reduce crime, alleviate tax burdens, or enhance public health. One surprising finding is that DUI rates are higher in dry counties than in wet or “mixed” counterparts. A study conducted in Kentucky uncovered that residents of dry counties face elevated risks of impaired driving. This phenomenon is primarily attributed to the need to travel longer distances to obtain alcohol, leading to extended periods of impaired driving on their way back home.

The Impact of Proximity

Another study, this time in Arkansas, reinforced the previous findings. It highlighted that businesses serving alcohol often establish themselves just outside the borders of dry counties. This strategic positioning minimizes the distance individuals must travel through a wet county to acquire alcohol. Consequently, the majority of the drive after consuming alcohol occurs within the dry county’s jurisdiction, where the risk of DUI arrests significantly escalates.

DUI-Related Accidents in Dry Counties

The National Center for Statistics and Analysis has added further weight to the argument against dry counties. Their research indicates that DUI-related accidents are nearly four times more likely to occur in dry counties compared to areas where alcohol sales are permitted.


Prohibition, whether in the 1920s or the form of dry counties today, has demonstrated its ineffectiveness in achieving its intended goals. Rather than reducing DUI rates and improving public health, dry counties tend to exacerbate the problem, as shown by various studies. It is crucial to reevaluate the relevance of such alcohol regulations in modern society and focus on more effective approaches to address issues related to alcohol consumption and impaired driving.

Suppose you find yourself facing DUI charges in Colorado. In that case, whether in a dry county or not, seeking legal representation is essential. The drunk driving defense attorneys at Thomas Law Firm specialize in matters related to charges of drunk or drugged driving. They can provide the guidance and support needed to navigate the legal process effectively.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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