US states consider lowering drinking age

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US states consider lowering drinking age

A number of US states are considering legislation to lower the legal drinking age from the current standard of 21 - if only to allow troops coming home from Iraq to drink.

The move would defy a generation of federal law and public opinion, which is strongly opposed to lowering the drinking age. In 1984 Congress set a uniform legal age of 21, threatening to cut highway funding to states which did not comply.

Despite the risk of penalties, however, seven US states are exploring lowering the drinking age - partly for under-age Iraq war vets and more broadly in recognition that teenagers are going to drink anyway.

“If you can take a shot on the battlefield you ought to be able to take a shot of beer legally,” said Fletcher Smith, who has sponsored legislation to lower the drinking age in South Carolina.

Kentucky, Wisconsin, and South Carolina have introduced legislation to lower the drinking age for troops to 18.

I’ve always thought raising the drinking age to 21 was stupid, I hope the states that want to put it back to 18.

Despite the risk of penalties, however, seven US states are exploring lowering the drinking age - partly for under-age Iraq war vets and more broadly in recognition that teenagers are going to drink anyway.

I don’t have strong feelings about lowering the drinking age, but this logic is ridiculous. Why enact laws for anything if breaking the law is considered a legitimate enough excuse to repeal it?

The bill in South Carolina didn’t go anywhere.

I agree with what you are saying but a more legitimate reason was said afterwards, “If you are old enough to take a bullet (Military service) then you should be old enough to have a shot of liquor”!

Frankly I find 21 for legal drinking age to be ridiculous. Its my understanding that a person can get married at 18 without parental consent. Now what the government is saying by that, is being a parent is less responsibility than having a beer. Ridiculous IMHO. It used to be 21 in Canada many years back too but now its 19.

yep, the 21 age limit is very stupid. how can you enlist at 18 and fight in iraq by 19 yet not be allowed to have a beer because you are too immature? so you mature enough to die for your country but not mature enough to drink a alcoholic beverage. that makes zero sense.

the problem is we don’t encourage young men to act like men but to behave like children.

I believe it was lower at one time but they up’d it. I think it had to do with more deaths from driving while under the influence.

When I was a young man, the drinking age in Louisiana was 18. I was as inclined to drink as much as any young man of that era. The only place I drank liquor but never got drunk at that age was Louisiana. Not even in the Quarter. There’s something about it being “normal” and accessible that makes it less frantic, somehow. There was nothing “daring” about it; nothing “challenging” to a young fellow. I don’t know what it was, exactly, one just felt more “adult”.

While I have no strong views on the 18 vs 21 laws, it does seem wise to me that the laws should be the same in all states. Otherwise we have the movement of young people back and forth at weekends and this encourages driving after drinking.
Ontario in Canada has an 18 age limit and car loads of boys head for Windsor every weekend to go to the strip clubs and drink. shame shame…

If it were up to me I’d lower the drinking age to 16 and raise the driving age to 18 – that would give everybody awhile to learn to hold their booze before they get behind the wheel :smiley:

:thumbsup:

Actually, I wish that they would pass a law allowing a 16 year old to get a temp permit and they have to have the permit a minumum of 2 years before they can get their drivers license. That gives them 2 years practice driving with their parents and their much more mature when they actually are set loose in a car.

I think most accidents involving young drivers are simply due to inexperience.

As for the drinking age, I could care less. Kids are going to drink regardless and I don’t see any law stopping them. Maybe if they lower the age, it can free law enforcement up to actually go after the drunk drivers instead of raiding underage drinking parties…

originally posted** by didymus**
If it were up to me I’d lower the drinking age to 16 and raise the driving age to 18 – that would give everybody awhile to learn to hold their booze before they get behind the wheel

The trouble with that is many teens hold jobs and use their vehicles for the daily commute.

I don’t disagree with your logic about the benefits of the law being the same everywhere. You can’t buy alcohol in my state on Sunday. So in college we would occasionly drive about 35 minutes to the adjacent state to by beer on Sundays.

However, whatever benefit there is in uniformity is more than outweighed by the need to preserve states rights. Recent times have really shown the need to check the power of the federal government.

As to the merits, the 21 age limit is absurd. You can join the army, buy a hand gun, and vote at 18, but not a beer?

If I were in the state legislature I would introduce a law stating that people age 50 to 53 can’t possess or consume alcohol, religous observances excluded of course. They have been drinking for 32 years after all, so their bodies need a break. I wonder how members of the state legislatures and congress would feel about that.

The 21 age limit is just as arbitrary.

Over in Europe some countries have the drinking age at 16 or even lower. They usually have a glass of wine or beer with dinner like we’d drink tea or soft drinks. It is no big deal over there and it shows b/c they have less drunkenness. Usually American kids go over there and make fools of themselves getting wasted and the European kids are disgusted. It is b/c they are taught to handle alcohol as an every day thing whereas ours view it as forbidden and are obsessed with getting drunk.

Don’t believe me? Go to a University sometime. Completely disgusting…Guys passing out and vomiting, Girls falling over themselves with body parts hanging out, vomiting. Rape increases, violence increases, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving. I hate alcohol just b/c of the gross abuse of it and refuse to drink it. Except when i was in Italy and enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner.

Excuse me I have lived outside the US for over 40 years. When I was there some states had 18 (eg New York) and some had 21
(eg Ohio). Was the change to 21 made by a simple federal law?
This confuses me.
Women were given the vote by a constitutional admendment. Because women had the vote in some states and not in others. The voting age was done by constitutional admendment because in a some staes one could vote at 18 but in others it was 21.
How did this change come about?

I concur. I currently live in Germany…the whole drinking culture is different. It’s not “forbidden fruit” so you don’t see near the binge drinking that we have in the US.

James,

Yes, it’s been years since every state went to 21 as the drinking age.

originally posted** by James Miller**
Excuse me I have lived outside the US for over 40 years. When I was there some states had 18 (eg New York) and some had 21
(eg Ohio). Was the change to 21 made by a simple federal law?
This confuses me.

They did have different age limits in different states. Vermont was age 18 and some lowered it to age 19 and 20 but then deaths while driving under the influence went way up and so they did a federal law passed in 1984 making it age 21.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 (Title 23 U.S.C. §158) was passed on July 17, 1984 by the United States Congress as a mechanism whereby all states would become thereafter required to legislate and enforce the age of 21 years as a minimum age for purchasing and publicly possessing alcoholic beverages. Under the Federal Aid Highway Act, a state not enforcing the minimum age would be subjected to a ten percent decrease in its annual federal highway apportionment.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Minimum_Drinking_Age_Act[1]

European culture is very different from American culture. Most American teens were on the road driving by age 16 and they upped that to age 16-1/2. Americans have always liked fast cars.

They can try it again at age 18 as I am sure within a year it will go right back up when the death count on the roads comes in. According to the The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the law which raised the age to 21 cut the death count by 13% in the age 18-20 group.

Automobile Accidents - About six million auto accidents occur each year resulting in forty thousand deaths. Alcohol is involved in forty percent of the deaths resulting from auto accidents, and speeding is involved in twenty-nine percent of the deaths resulting from auto accidents. These auto accidents often result when motor vehicle operators speed, make improper left turns, fail to stop at red lights or stop signs, drive on the wrong side of the street, drink and drive, or travel into the rear-end of another vehicle. injuryaccidentattorney.com/practice_main.html

I have to agree with some. They can try to lower it but it’ll just be raised back up. The only way we can get it lowered and keep it lowered is if parents will actually teach their children to be responsible with acohol. That is the major difference between Europe and America. Parents in Europe
actually do teach their children to be responsible with acohol where as in America it’s basically forbidden to the kid until the kid is completely grown and on their own and then all of a sudden they are turned loose on it. If the kids in America had the oppurtunity to be under the care of their parents will learning about drinking then they wouldn’t go so nuts with it. Treating acohol like it’s forbidden fruit is wrong. It’s not forbidden fruit, however, it is something that needs to be used in a responsible manner.

Here in Massachusetts, between 1972 and 1975, we lowered the drinking age from 21 down to 18. It was a disaster!

Not only did drunk driving rates among teens go up, but the age of teen drinking went down as far as 12 and 13 years of age.

Also, 18-20 year olds ended up taking over various clubs and bars, to the point that even these establishments, helped work to get a referendum on the ballot, to return the drinking age back to 21. The referendum passed by a 3 to 1 margin, despite the fact that the 18 - 20 year old crowd, could vote.

Leave it at 21, except for those serving in the military.

Jim

Which they drive, terribly, terribly slowly (from a European’s perspective)!

Regulation of alcohol is reserved to the states by the amendment that repealed Prohibition. So what the Feds did was tied highway spending to the requirement that states have a 21 y/o drinking age. I believe Wyoming was the last holdout. The states simply couldn’t afford to lose the highways funds.

I note that the arguments on not being able to have a drink but being fully able to be killed in combat was the argument during Vietnam that caused the states to lower the age.

I truly think the neo-Puritanical anti-alcohol rage has been blown out of proportion and needs to be reined in and the age needs to be lowered to the general age of majority which is usually 18. It’s crazy that you are an adult for all purposes except drinking.

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