This report (the fourth in a series) presents some statistics on the possible effects of the Sale of Liquor Amendment Act 1999, and focuses on the lowering of the purchase age. Most of the statistics presented are updates of those presented in the earlier reports, however, statistics included in the earlier reports are not included in this report if updated information was not available. A new statistical series of the number of liquor licences has been added in this report. The statistics presented are mostly limited to those statistics routinely collected on a national basis for various purposes, with information being available for up to five years following the law change. The statistics do not explicitly measure the impact of lowering the minimum legal purchase age. Rather, they are indicators, which, when assessed together, give some insight into the possible impact of lowering the purchase age. Changes in indicator levels over time may be due to factors other than lowering the purchase age, such as changes in Police practices or recording practices. For these reasons, these statistics represent only a partial picture of the likely impact of lowering the purchase age.
The statistics presented in this report show a mixed picture of the possible impact of lowering the purchase age. Some of the indicators, for example minors drinking or possessing alcohol in public places, prosecutions of young people for driving with excess breath or blood alcohol, and crashes where alcohol was recorded as a factor, indicate that the change in legislation may have had a detrimental effect on young people's drinking behaviour. Other indicators, for example apprehensions and convictions for disorderly behaviour, show an increasing trend after the change in legislation, but the changes are a continuation of trends established before the law changed. Some of the changes in the indicators have been influenced by other factors, e.g. changes in Police practice or traffic enforcement, which are difficult to quantify. Overall, it is not clear to what extent any of these changes can be attributed to the changes in the legislation.