Stephen Simon ’71

Clinical Professor of Law Emeritus

Prof. Simon, Chelsea Becker Publish Commentary on Minn. Alcohol Tax

Professor Stephen Simon, director of the Minnesota Criminal Justice System DWI Task Force, and Chelsea Becker (’11), research assistant for the DWI Task Force, published a commentary entitled “Tax Alcohol, Save Lives” on the front page of the Opinion section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Monies from an increase in the alcohol excise tax could go toward the costs that excessive drinking places on Minnesotans, especially on the health care and criminal justice systems, the authors say. Studies estimate that excessive alcohol consumption costs Minnesotans $4.5 billion annually, but the tax on alcohol sales brings in only $234 million. Important benefits of larger tax revenues could include more effective enforcement of drunken driving laws and adequate funding for prosecution, public defense, and treatment. Minnesota’s alcohol excise tax has not been increased since 1987, Simon and Becker note.

Professor Simon has been quoted frequently in the Star Tribune in recent months on matters relating to Minnesota’s DWI law, programs and penalties for first-time and repeat offenders, alcohol-related traffic fatalities, and other issues in his area of expertise.

On Jan. 25, 2010, he was interviewed on Minnesota Public Radio’s “Midday” program on prevention and punishment of drunken driving. He founded the DWI Task Force—an independent, pro bono organization of judges, prosecutors, assistant attorneys general, University faculty, police officers, chemical dependency workers, traffic and safety professionals, and others—in 1982 to advocate for legislative initiatives that increase the DWI law’s effectiveness and clarity.