Variation in Alcohol Policy Enforcement Across Urban and Nonurban Communities

Collin Calvert, Traci Toomey, Kathleen Lenk, Spruha Joshi, Toben Nelson, Darin Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The goal of this study was to assess whether different types of communities (ie, urban, suburban, small town, and rural) vary in the alcohol enforcement activities they conduct. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from a national survey of local law enforcement agencies. Data: The survey assessed enforcement of a range of alcohol policies at 1,082 law enforcement agencies. U.S. Census data were used to categorize agencies based on community type. Results: Agencies in urban areas conducted more enforcement activities than agencies in other community types. Urban agencies were more likely than rural agencies to conduct underage compliance checks (prevalence ratio [PR]: 0.42; CI: 0.34-0.53), saturation patrols (PR: 0.80; CI: 0.67-0.95), sobriety checkpoints (PR: 0.68; CI: 0.53-0.86), and enforcement aimed at illegal sales to intoxicated patrons (PR: 0.59; CI: 0.42-0.81). Urban agencies were also more likely than small town agencies to do compliance checks (PR: 0.66; CI: 0.56-0.79) and sobriety checkpoints (PR: 0.75; CI: 0.61-0.91), and they were more likely than suburban agencies to do compliance checks (PR: 0.67; CI: 0.57-0.78) and enforcement actions around the sale of alcohol to intoxicated patrons (PR: 0.64; CI: 0.45-0.90), provision of alcohol to minors (PR: 0.77; CI: 0.65-0.92), and consumption by minors (PR: 0.90; CI: 0.82-0.99). Conclusions: Enforcement of alcohol laws differs by community type. Future research is needed to identify mechanisms to increase enforcement by agencies in different types of communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-246
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T32CA163184 (Michele Allen, MD, MS; PI) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism under Award Numbers R01 AA017873 (Darin Erickson, PhD; PI) and R21 AA025370 (Traci Toomey, PhD; PI). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 National Rural Health Association


  • alcohol
  • enforcement
  • geography
  • police
  • policy


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