Lowering the Drinking Age to 18
A Vermont legislator has introduced a bill to lower the state's drinking age to 18. He says we're driving drinkers underground. 18 year olds can do everything else - go to war, sign contracts, marry, vote - so why not drink?
The drinking age was 18 in New York when I was a teenager - It got raised in every state to 21 when the feds decided they would withhold highway money from states that didn't have a 21 year old age limit and passed the Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.
When I was with bloggers at the Democratic convention in Boston this summer, there was one of our group who only 20. It was ridiculous that we could all order drinks and he couldn't.
When was the last time you heard a kid turn down a drink saying not "I don't drink, thank you," but "I better not, I'm not 21 yet." In other words, a kid is going to drink at 18 if she wants to, regardless of whether the law says 18 or 21. The juvenile courts are jammed with "minor in possession" cases. If they weren't, they might have more time and funds to deal with the kids with more serious issues.
So I'm all in favor of lowering the drinking age. But, I take issue with the Vermont bill promoter here:
The 21-year-old drinking age is bad social policy and terrible law," Mr. McCardell wrote, saying it had led to binge drinking by teenagers. "Our latter-day prohibitionists have driven drinking behind closed doors and underground. (emphasis supplied.)
Where's the proof of that connection? This source says there is none.
"Binge" drinking is down and abstinence is up among American college students. Yet in spite of this and other overwhelming evidence, the false impression persists that drinking is increasing and that "bingeing continues unabated."
More on underage drinking misconceptions is here. But, in the final analysis, it probably doesn't matter what the state's residents really think about the drinking age. The bill is doomed to failure. It comes down to those highway funds.
I don't really know if the age is relevant," Mr. DePoy said. "I think it's just going to boil down to the mere fact that this state needs the transportation funds."
Where are the states' rights advocates when you need them?
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