Fact Check Thursday

A Mother Speaks Out, Says Misleading Things

There are some solid public safety reasons to vote no on I-1105 and I-1100. Why advertise with fake ones?

October 28, 2010

Let’s be clear about something. If either liquor privatization initiative is passed, any store in the state that now sells beer and wine—including 24-hour stores that sell beer and wine—could be eligible to sell liquor. But it would still be illegal to sell alcohol between the hours of 2am and 6am, no matter how late or early a given emporium chooses to shut down. Haven’t you ever tried to buy wine late-night at a 24-hour grocery store in Seattle and been denied? Er…me neither. But if we had, we would have been sent packing, because a store loses its liquor license if it sells outside legal hours. The concerned mother in the ad below is clearly implying, however, that privatization would mean liquor would be available around the clock. Not true, Concerned Mother.

Secondly, mom says that the initiatives expand liquor sales "to thousands of 24-hour mini-marts and gas stations, where stings by police prove they sell liquor to minors one out of four times."

I believe that the number that she is referring to is the average noncompliance rate for all states with a private liquor-sales system. Here’s the real statistic: In sting operations conducted in the 32 states with private liquor sales, minors were denied alcohol in 75 percent of cases, on average. So in 1 out of 4 sting operations, a private liquor store failed to deny minors booze. The ad uses a real number, it just construes that real number to make a misleading argument related to 24-hour gas stations and mini-marts.

But here’s the thing. At 94 percent, Washington currently enjoys the highest compliance rate in the country. That’s a very convincing reason, from a public safety perspective, to vote no on privatization. Especially when you compare it to the 75 percent average compliance rate across states with private liquor sales.

Why doesn’t the No campaign use real information to make its argument? I don’t get it.

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