Reason: Time to change drinking age to 18?

posted at 12:15 pm on April 7, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

It’s a perennial argument that touches on public safety, legal hypocrisy, federalism, and morality. We try people as adults for committing crimes even before the age of 18 and exclusively in criminal court at that age and older — including for drunken driving. At 18, Americans can enlist in the armed forces, become responsible for contracts and debt, and hold public office at state and local levels. What they can’t do is buy a beer anywhere in America, thanks to the imposition of federal control through the use of highway funds.  Does an age limit of 21 make any kind of rational sense?  Reason TV says no:

The only real reason to treat citizens between 18 and 20 differently is public safety, but as this explains, that’s not even very well established.  No one doubts that these adults have access to alcohol whether or not they can buy it directly.  Instead of channeling them into areas with some kind of supervision like bars and nightclubs, they get forced underground, which arguably encourages binge drinking.  (Binging isn’t entirely unknown in bars, either, but bar owners face legal ramifications when it occurs.)  While alcohol-related driving fatalities have decreased since standardization of the drinking age, that’s probably a lot more attributable to heavier penalties on enforcement and societal anger over drunk driving in general — which is why fatalities have declined in every age group of drivers, as the video explains.

The policy makes absolutely no sense from a legal standpoint.  If a person is considered fully, legally responsible at 18 for his conduct, what justification is there for banning his purchase of a legal product?  And why should the federal government be involved at all?  The FBI doesn’t enforce alcohol sales statutes; local and state authorities have that jurisdiction.  The citizens of each state should decide for themselves what rules fit their community, and whether they want to continue the hypocrisy of treating 18-20 year olds as some kind of Junior Citizens.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Minimum age drinking laws lack common sense and have never prevented anyone under age from obtaining alcohol (or any other substance).

When I was 18 30 years ago, the drinking age in CO was 18 for 3.2 beer, 21 for everything else. In Wyoming, it was 19 for everything. So those of us in college in Ft Collins and Greeley would do liquor runs to Cheyenne to stock up. We also had friends over 21 that would purchase alcohol for the group. The laws never stopped us.

Since the drinking age for everything was changed to 21, there is far more alcohol abuse at younger ages than my generation. My teenagers have to look hard for a party that doesn’t include alcohol and my now adult son used to tell me stories of honor students and athletes wild behavior at high school parties.

At least in my day we had 3.2 clubs we could go to for socializing, dancing, etc. Young adults today have nowhere to go unless they’re in college or have their own apartment.

My 18-year-old daughter is going on a cruise as a graduation present. She can’t have wine with dinner on the ship, but she can at every port. How does that make any sense?

These laws go hand in hand with society’s move to make people stay “children” longer and longer. My high school kids are treated like 5-year-olds at school but like the adults they are in their other activities. High school-aged kids should be given adult responsibilities just like they used to. More responsibility usually leads to more responsible behavior.

It’s no wonder colleges are filled with binge drinking and other bad behavior. Those kids have never had any responsibilities and don’t know how to handle the freedom.

Common Sense on April 7, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Do you realize you contradict your entire argument?

You’re saying alcohol is widely used and easily accessible to those under the legal drinking age, but then blame binge drinking on the idea that they haven’t been given the opportunity to drink. Can’t really have it both ways.

I think the binge drinking you speak of is because alcohol is revered in this country as being something “fun” and “exciting”.

After all, you have seen a beer ad showing someone puking in the front yard while half naked,one shoe missing, while praying to God that if He makes the world stop spinning he’ll never drink again?

Of course not, you see the good looking guy picking up the hottest chick in the bar because he cracked open the popular drink of the day.

It’s the attitudes towards glorifying alcohol abuse that is the problem, not the age it’s available.

ButterflyDragon on April 7, 2010 at 1:58 PM

I vaguely remember taking my SAT test totally hungover.

John the Libertarian on April 7, 2010 at 2:08 PM

It does get a bit tiring, hearing about how we “can’t expect” teenagers not to waiting until the legal age to drink or smoke, that we “can’t expect” them not to “sow their wild oats”, that we “can’t expect” them not to experiment, so let’s just lower the drinking age/pass out condoms/legalize marijuana.

Yes, you can expect those things. To do otherwise is to shortchange these kids. “Well, you’re not strong enough to resist temptation and peer pressure, so here you go.”

I’m 26 years old. I’ve never had an alcoholic drink or cigarette in my life. I never experimented with drugs. I’m unmarried and never had sex.

Was it easy? ‘Course not. But I have a healthy amount of respect for my parents and knew what they expected from me.

Hey, I’m not saying everyone has to adhere to my kind of lifestyle. But to suggest teenagers lack the ability to follow set standards, so we must lower them? Is that honestly the kind of message we want to stick out there?

For the record, though, I’m with those of you who think this should be a state issue rather than a federal one.

lonesome_pine on April 7, 2010 at 2:12 PM

I think the big reason for making it 21 instead of 18 in the first place was because 21-year-olds are highly unlikely to still be in high school, and they don’t want a senior legally buying the keg for a party with brand-new 16-year-old drivers.

Not that drinking high-schoolers don’t find a way around this, or anything…

But I think a sane approach would be a “single-serve” law, where an 18-20-year-old can buy a drink at a restaurant and a package with no more than 4 alcoholic beverages at a retail store. That way, adults can consume their adult beverages without sparking fears of spring-semester keggers (well, more than there usually are).

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 2:14 PM

In Europe, or at least Spain, the drinking age is 16, but you can’t buy until you are 18. Presumably, this means 16 year olds who drink will be under some sort of supervision of someone 18 or older. Seems reasonable to me but starts a bit young.

In other words, it would seem OK to have the drinking age 18 but you can’t buy until 21. Realistically, this is pretty much how it works at most colleges.

Perhaps one might toss in you couldn’t buy at all at any age if you’ve got a DWI violation until you’ve gone through a prolonged probation (5 years?).

drfredc on April 7, 2010 at 2:16 PM

I never understood this — drinking legal age in the US is 21, but the legal age to join the army, have your life put at risk on foreign soil, and have a gun entrusted to you in the army is 18…

It’s pretty stupid.

Besides, kids get alcohol and marijuana whenever they want, not when they turn 21.

To bring down the legal age from 21 to 18 would be mostly symbolic, I think, but it would be a positive symbol.

AlexB on April 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM

To bring down the legal age from 21 to 18 would be mostly symbolic, I think, but it would be a positive symbol.

AlexB on April 7, 2010 at 2:19 PM

I don’t know about a ‘positive symbol’…more like acknowledging the bitter reality IMHO.

Dark-Star on April 7, 2010 at 2:27 PM

I see a lot of these laws as nothing more than fundraisers for the State.

Seriously. Your kid gets busted?

Look at the “consequences.” It’s nearly always a huge fine for the parents.

It’s a state revenue source.

AnninCA on April 7, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Nail —> Head

So does murder. Anyone who whines about “morality law” and isn’t an anarchist is a hypocrite.

Darth Executor on April 7, 2010 at 1:11 PM

Technically murdering someone does violate their civil rights so your analogy FALLS WAY SHORT.

Sammy316 on April 7, 2010 at 2:29 PM

I’d like to see you naysayers personally inform a group of under-21 vets returning from a tour of Afghanistan that they’re not yet full citizens and do not deserve the right to have a beer.

Whiskey Rebel on April 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Why not treat it like guns, such as with a hunter’s safety course? Or cars, with a driving test?

How about restore power to the states to lower the age to 18 BUT they have to attend a class or watch a video spelling out the dangers of alcoholism and driving under the influence.

A dozen hours of hearing stories of the way alcohol addiction has ruined lives and viewing scenes of twisted metal and spattered blood would do likely do more to sober up 18 yr olds to drink responsibly than simply refusing to sell to them until they’re 21 (which is ineffective and almost encourages lawbreaking among the independent/rebellious types).

That would be treating them like adults, instead of like kids.

willamettevalley on April 7, 2010 at 2:38 PM

A single-serve law would likely help further prevent underage drinking. Why?

Right now, an 18-year-old is in college/military/whatever, or months from it— and can’t go clubbing without a big “I’M EFFING UNDERAGE” sign etched on them by a bouncer. They can’t get some wine coolers on Friday, or get a beer with their hot wings. Who under those circumstances would not be tempted severely to get a fake ID? Oh, and since they have that fake ID, Bobby’s parents are out of town this weekend. May as well get a keg and invite the usual suspects…

Under a single-serve law, if you are 18, you can go to any nightclub you want, order any drink for yourself you want, and be able to go to any store and buy enough booze for your own consumption….

Once you’re 18, you got yours, why obtain a fake ID just to buy a keg for a bunch of lame high school sophomores?

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Alcohol is one of the only products we have an actual constitutional right to possess. That and guns ( what else does one need! ). I don’t see how the federal government can constitutionally have a say in the matter of state drinking age after the ratification of the 20th Amendment.

Buddahpundit on April 7, 2010 at 12:46 PM

–You don’t have a US Constitutional right to possess alcohol. It’s still subject to state and local regulation.

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

Jimbo3 on April 7, 2010 at 2:41 PM

That’s not necessarily true, and even if it were, that wouldn’t make it true in a significant amount of cases where it should be the determining factor for the minimum drinking age. Using your logic, then all teenagers who are currently having their alcohol supplied by a tier two adult (>21) would begin getting it from a high school senior, who would be able to be held accountable by the school?

RachDubya on April 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Held accountable for what’s being done outside of school? Not sure how you work that out.

My only point is that 14 and 15-year-olds know far more people who are 18 than 21 – and might even have friends who are 18, whereas 21-year-olds are far less likely to spend any time with high school freshmen. I’m not saying it grants them instant access, but it’s just illogical to pretend it doesn’t make it easier.

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 2:45 PM

A dozen hours of hearing stories of the way alcohol addiction has ruined lives and viewing scenes of twisted metal and spattered blood would do likely do more to sober up 18 yr olds to drink responsibly…

willamettevalley on April 7, 2010 at 2:38 PM

Something like the Montana Meth Project for alcohol? Now THAT might actually work!

If Rebellious Ronnie is too good to listen to the words of his elders and betters, perhaps he’ll pay attention to the consequences of foolishness shown to him in living color.

Dark-Star on April 7, 2010 at 2:46 PM

I was able to legally drink from the ages of 19-20 because I was married and my husband was 21. How’s that for stupid?

We could go out to eat and as long as he ordered, I could drink.

I think the argument was that he was my legal guardian in such situations.

Vera on April 7, 2010 at 1:30 PM

–Texas and Wisconsin allow minors to drink (if the pub/restaurant allows it) so long as their parents or legal guardians are with them. Your spouse qualifies, in effect, as a legal guardian. Here’s the Texas law (and understand that cops in Texas may give the minor a ticket if the guardian goes to the bathroom and is no longer physically present).

(b) A person may purchase an alcoholic beverage for or give an alcoholic beverage to a minor if he is the minor’s adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or an adult in whose custody the minor has been committed by a court, and he is visibly present when the minor possesses or consumes the alcoholic beverage.

Jimbo3 on April 7, 2010 at 2:49 PM

How about we lower the drinking age to 18, and ammend the Constitution to raise the voting age to 30?

Blacklake on April 7, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I’d like to see you naysayers personally inform a group of under-21 vets returning from a tour of Afghanistan that they’re not yet full citizens and do not deserve the right to have a beer.

Whiskey Rebel on April 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM

–My understanding is that our military bases are exempt from state laws because they’re federal property. If that’s right, vets can drink on those bases.

Jimbo3 on April 7, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I’d like to see you naysayers personally inform a group of under-21 vets returning from a tour of Afghanistan that they’re not yet full citizens and do not deserve the right to have a beer.

Whiskey Rebel on April 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM

So you are saying that an 18 year old “vet” is the same as an 18 year old drop out?
You think they equate?
The vast majority of kids are not responsible soldiers, who have gone through military training and have learned discipline.
That is what we are talking about, the kids on the streets…please don’t insult our service men, and think they are no better.

right2bright on April 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM

I’d like to see you naysayers personally inform a group of under-21 vets returning from a tour of Afghanistan that they’re not yet full citizens and do not deserve the right to have a beer.

Whiskey Rebel on April 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM

But it’s all good if they’re under 18?

Once you’re 18, you got yours, why obtain a fake ID just to buy a keg for a bunch of lame high school sophomores?

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Because you are lame, and this is a way to get people to like you. Why else would an 18-year-old buy alcohol for lame high school sophomores anyway?

Plus, now you’re talking about a whole new system that further expands the role of government.

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Actually you can join the military at 17. I had a soldier who celebrated his 18th birthday in Iraq.

thuljunior on April 7, 2010 at 2:54 PM

You may want to be on the road with a bunch of drunken 18 year olds, but I prefer not to.
Since the number one cause of death in teenagers is auto (65% of all accidental deaths), and the number one reason is alcohol/drugs, then I think it would be safe to say that number would go up…and along with that is innocents deaths would also rise.
Yeah, good idea, flood the streets with more drunks…

right2bright on April 7, 2010 at 2:56 PM

In NY, it is legal for a PARENT to serve their own minor child in their own home.
Having seen enough drunks of all ages (saddest when just under age and binging) my children learn to drink responsible well before they can legally buy.
You do not need a con con to change this – just some congressmen and senators that believe in liberty and limited government. Of course, we still have enough nanny states that would never change the drinking age down – hell they want to take away soda pop, not to mention food with flavor.

StuckinliberalNY on April 7, 2010 at 2:56 PM

lonesome_pine on April 7, 2010 at 2:12 PM

A hearty “Bravo” to you. Good job!

mwdiver on April 7, 2010 at 2:58 PM

when I turned 18, it was legal for me to drink, vote, etc., that is I was legally an adult.
the tying fed road money to a state’s drinking age was just another aspect of fed control over states and individuals.

Willie on April 7, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Maybe the question should be…What good would it serve to allow 18 year olds access to more alcohol?
I haven’t seen a reason…maybe more tax revenue? More business for mortuary’s?

right2bright on April 7, 2010 at 2:58 PM

Yeah, good idea, flood the streets with more drunks…

right2bright on April 7, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Teenagers are already the most dangerous people on the street – far more so than the elderly. I’m OK with raising the driving age or making it harder to get and keep a license until 20 or older.

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Because you are lame, and this is a way to get people to like you. Why else would an 18-year-old buy alcohol for lame high school sophomores anyway?

Plus, now you’re talking about a whole new system that further expands the role of government.

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 2:52 PM

All that would have to happen is another way in which drivers’ licenses are marked. Considering a new 16-year-old driver is very likely to be replacing her license in two years anyway, it can be baked into the cake. And I have yet to see the 18-year-old who is all that chuffed about what someone two or three years behind him thinks about him, if the possibility of sex is not involved. Most 18-year-olds have serious Senior-itis, an effect of which is to care very little about high school popularity. I remember being 18. My second semester didn’t go on my permanent record. The school could burn down for all I cared. Just get me the F out of here!

The senior with the fake ID buys a keg because, hey, she already has that fake ID. You are generally not going to acquire a good quality fake ID in the same outing as buying the keg. The other kids can peer-pressure someone all they want, but the logistics of acquiring both a fake ID and a keg in the next three hours work against them.

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 3:09 PM

No one doubts that these adults have access to alcohol whether or not they can buy it directly.

Some access, yes. But they generally can’t get drunk every day just by walking to the nearest 7-11. When it comes to “binge drinking”, bars are not the problem; liquor stores are. Probably the biggest problem with bars is the drive home afterwards.

I don’t like the way the drinking age was imposed, but I don’t think lowering it is a good idea.

sandberg on April 7, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Time to change drinking age to 18?

Screw that! According to Obamacare, you’re a dependent child until you’re 26! I say RAISE the drinking age to 26!

American Elephant on April 7, 2010 at 3:16 PM

I agree that the federal government shouldn’t use the purse strings to force states into the age 21 requirement. In addition to the usual good reasons of federalism, when dealing with alcohol the 21st Amendment (under which states have complete authority over alcoholic beverages) is also implicated.

However, even if permitted to do so, I think states would be very foolish to lower the drinking age.

acasilaco on April 7, 2010 at 3:23 PM

I don’t like the way the drinking age was imposed, but I don’t think lowering it is a good idea.

sandberg on April 7, 2010 at 3:14 PM

Exactly.

acasilaco on April 7, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Considering a new 16-year-old driver is very likely to be replacing her license in two years anyway, it can be baked into the cake.

I don’t see a problem with that at all. I had to get one every year until 18.

I’m talking about the fact that the government would have to be able to keep track of the alcoholic purchases of these 18-year-olds.

And I have yet to see the 18-year-old who is all that chuffed about what someone two or three years behind him thinks about him, if the possibility of sex is not involved.

And those teens also wouldn’t bother buying beer for their younger peers anyway. I mean, if they don’t care what a 16-year-old thinks of them, then why would they buy alcohol for them anyway, even without this plan?

As to the sex issue, isn’t that one of the main reasons seniors date freshmen?

Most 18-year-olds have serious Senior-itis, an effect of which is to care very little about high school popularity. I remember being 18. My second semester didn’t go on my permanent record. The school could burn down for all I cared. Just get me the F out of here!

Senioritis is about school and grades, not hanging out with the friends you’re about to leave for college.

The senior with the fake ID buys a keg because, hey, she already has that fake ID. You are generally not going to acquire a good quality fake ID in the same outing as buying the keg. The other kids can peer-pressure someone all they want, but the logistics of acquiring both a fake ID and a keg in the next three hours work against them.

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Wouldn’t have to be a keg, and if you’re the oldest person in your group (and plenty of seniors don’t turn 18 until the summer or next fall) you likely want to buy for everyone. With your plan, assuming they just played by the rules, they’d simply have to stock up.

Or just do what they do now and get a fake or borrow their older brother/sister’s.

I’m just not sure how you’ve changed anything with this new requirement. If kids are motivated to buy for their younger peers already, this will still be true.

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM

I’d like to see you naysayers personally inform a group of under-21 vets returning from a tour of Afghanistan that they’re not yet full citizens and do not deserve the right to have a beer.

Whiskey Rebel on April 7, 2010 at 2:33 PM

It’s not a question of citizenship. And, anyway, many of them would probably be okay with it. At least I infer that from the fact that, at least in my area, local law enforcement regularly uses under-21 military personnel in their compliance checks (i.e., “stings) of bars that are near the bases.

acasilaco on April 7, 2010 at 3:31 PM

I’d like to see you naysayers personally inform a group of under-21 vets returning from a tour of Afghanistan that they’re not yet full citizens and do not deserve the right to have a beer.

OK. “Sorry, but some of your irresponsible peers cause society too many problems, because they haven’t finished growing up yet.”

sandberg on April 7, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Back when I was 18 and stationed on Guam, I could drink anywhere.

Then I got transferred back to the states and had to wait another 6 months before I could go into a bar off base.

Oh…and back then…and 18yo could still drink on base.

The Ugly American on April 7, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Besides, kids get alcohol and marijuana whenever they want, not when they turn 21.

Whenever they want? No, that’s not really true in my experience.

When I was a minor, we could get marijuana at school, but alcohol was harder to come by. We couldn’t just walk down to 7-11 and buy it. Obtaining alcohol took some effort, and was never a sure thing.

(As to the difference between alcohol and marijuana, part of it is probably that marijuana is illegal for all ages, and part of it is that an intoxicating quantity of marijuana is physically smaller than an intoxicating quantity of alcohol, so it’s much easier for kids selling it to carry around in their pocket.)

sandberg on April 7, 2010 at 3:36 PM

These laws are arbitrary and discriminatory. I drank when I was 18 years old and it was legal. Colleges are tired of having to police their students with regard to underage drinking and I don’t blame them. Get the Feds out of our lives. Let the states decide.

FWIW I Louisiana you can’t gamble until you are 21 either. You can’t even buy a Lotto ticket.

roux on April 7, 2010 at 3:39 PM

Since so many 18-20 year olds act like idiots, maybe we should raise the age of adulthood up to 21?

A look at the other side of the aisle tells you that, for some, age doesn’t bring wisdom. A 30 pothead is arguably a greater menace to public safety than a 18 year old in the army. Granting the status of adulthood based on age doesn’t seem logical to me. Time doesn’t mature a person, life experience does. A 17 year old spending majority of his time with a PlayStation is hardly transformed by a year of gaming. I’m in favor of linking certain social privileges to paying income tax. Not paying taxes? Well, no boozes for you, and no voting or driving.

year_of_the_dingo on April 7, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 3:26 PM

I’m saying the biggest motivation to get a fake ID is getting booze for yourself, or being able to go to a club without a big, fat “I’M UNDERAGE” sign marked on you by the bouncer. Being able to get booze for everyone else is gravy.

I’m counting on teenagers to be lazy. If by showing up and being 18, they can get most of what they could want a fake ID for, why get a fake ID?

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

I’m counting on teenagers to be lazy. If by showing up and being 18, they can get most of what they could want a fake ID for, why get a fake ID?

Sekhmet on April 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Because teens don’t like to drink by themselves. They don’t drink because drinking is awesome. They drink because their friends do.

Esthier on April 7, 2010 at 3:58 PM

vote – 18
drafted at 18(males)
emancipated – 18
drive – 14 – 17

drink – 21 – why the difference?

RonK on April 7, 2010 at 4:00 PM

If you can die for your country at 18, you should be allowed to drink in your country

LordDaMan on April 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM

21 or 26 unless you have a military ID. If you have a Military ID then you are adult enough for a beer. I should not have been allowed to drink at 16,17,18 and by the time I was 21 or so, I started figuring that out and wondering how I survived.

rgranger on April 7, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Here in New Hampshire we lowered it to 18 in the early 1970s. From personal experience I can tell you that I was glad to see them raise it back to 21 years later.

As I recall, a lot of other states also had it lower back then and then also raised it.

Del Dolemonte on April 7, 2010 at 4:05 PM

I’m sure some good democrat has a wildly popular paternalistic piece of legislation to do away with liberty in this matter.

daesleeper on April 7, 2010 at 4:06 PM

drink – 21 – why the difference?

Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind raising the voting age to 21, although I doubt that could happen.

As for military service, there’s a crucial difference: you have to qualify for service, and go through training. It’s an apples to oranges comparison.

sandberg on April 7, 2010 at 4:09 PM

I say let the States decide. The diea of the Federal government withholding Highway Funds to force States to adapt a 21 to drink law has always been disturbing to me. It is similar to extortion.

I personally prefer a 21 y.o. drinking age, people just aren’t responsible enough at 18. Yeah they can go to war, but getting shot forces you to mature pretty damn quickly compared to getting drunk. Still, it should be a state decision.

Daemonocracy on April 7, 2010 at 4:11 PM

oh, and I definitely support raising the voting age from 18 to 21 unless you serve in the military or work full time.

Daemonocracy on April 7, 2010 at 4:13 PM

I personally prefer a 21 y.o. drinking age, people just aren’t responsible enough at 18. Yeah they can go to war, but getting shot forces you to mature pretty damn quickly compared to getting drunk. Still, it should be a state decision.

Daemonocracy on April 7, 2010 at 4:11 PM

Agreed on all counts. I’d just raise the voting age back to 21, military service or no. That would have made me miss voting in the ’08 elections, but the thought of how my peers voted makes me physically ill.

Dark-Star on April 7, 2010 at 4:37 PM

Drinking age… as well as voting age, etc…. should be raised to 26 to be in line with the Democrats’ definition of adulthood in Obamacare.

malclave on April 7, 2010 at 4:42 PM

Why is it that an 18 year old is assumed to be mature enough to determine whether to breathe in tobacco smoke, with virtually no health benefits whatsoever and a maximum of health dangers…but they’re considered too young to drink a glass of wine with a meal?

MadisonConservative on April 7, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Why is it that an 18 year old is assumed to be mature enough to determine whether to breathe in tobacco smoke, with virtually no health benefits whatsoever and a maximum of health dangers…but they’re considered too young to drink a glass of wine with a meal?

MadisonConservative on April 7, 2010 at 4:51 PM

Because a stupid 18 year old is made immediately more stupid after his glasses of wine and is more likely to get in his car and drive in my direction than someone of a more mature age.

Daemonocracy on April 7, 2010 at 4:56 PM

I think we either need a Constitutional amendment authorizing people to consume alcohol at age 18 or that it should be left to the states with no Federal tying of funds to requiring a legal age of 21 or any other Federal meddling.

Does anyone really think that the same people in Congress who have borrowed $13 trillion know better than us about anything?

I don’t drink or use tobacco or drugs, but I think that people should be able to drink alcohol upon attaining the age of 18.

Our state colleges and universities smother their students with outlandish prohibitions against alcohol.

Learning to either refrain from drinking, drink responsibly or bear the consequences of alcohol abuse are a part of growing up.

Trying to criminalize drinking by college students is preposterous.

If the fat old legislators and Congressmen who enact these Orwellian laws applied the same criminal consequences to their own actions (e.g. making it a misdemeanor to drive more than 5 miles over the speed limit) as they apply to young adults regarding alcohol, they would appreciate the folly of their ridiculous laws.

Government needs to get off of everyone’s backs – a lot.

Let’s then start with declaring victory in the Federal war on drugs, move the DEA agents to ICE so that they can patrol our southern border and enforce our immigration laws, and let the states decide which recreational drugs they wish to permit and which ones they wish to criminalize.

molonlabe28 on April 7, 2010 at 4:58 PM

The problem with these Libertarian arguments is the logic seems to be “if people are going to do things anyway then why not make them legal”? Well you could apply that to all manner of harmful behaviors that impact society. If the total abolition of something is the standard by which the effectiveness of laws are judged, then you may as well legalize everything.

What they fail to acknowledge is that we have an enormous welfare state in this country and adverse behaviors by some individuals can eventually lead to them being a burden on society. In addition, the legalization of intoxicants takes a tool out of the bag of those trying to prevent excessive use. An 18 year old in 2010 is a different animal of even that of the 1970′s. We have extended adolescence well beyond 18 and into the mid to late 20′s. Unfortunately most 18 year olds are not that responsible.

I am for the federal government staying out of it, but I wouldn’t blame some states for keeping the age at 21. I have an 18 year old and a 20 year old, I don’t want either one of them drinking right now and the fact it is illegal is a good tool I can use to discourage it.

echosyst on April 7, 2010 at 5:29 PM

Trust me on this one… lower the drinking age.

As a Student Affairs professional at a southern private (and somewhat conservative) university, I have witnessed a dramatic change in student behavior over the past 2 1/2 decades. When the drinking age was 18 in NC, students gathered at the pizza parlor, shared a couple of pitchers and some pizza, and then went back to the dorms… Not now. These days, the entire campus gathers on frat court and consumes 8-12 cans of beer each. Why? Because it’s a legal taboo, AND because they know that they may not have access to it again until the following weekend. The media calls it “binging,” but we call it “hoarding.” These adults can’t go to clubs, they can’t buy beer in restaurants, and they can’t bring a six-pack into the dorms. The only alternative is to binge at frat court to “make up” for lost time.

The state won’t enforce the alcohol laws unless they catch someone in the act of purchasing it with a fake ID. My RA staff does NOTHING but write alcohol citations from Thursday thru Saturday, my housekeepers clean up puke all weekend, and the senior administration refuse to enforce the 3 strikes and your out policy on the student body. Even the parents think it’s ridiculous. Many parents actually purchase the kegs and drop them off for their kids.

The irony: our University President refuses to enforce the alcohol policies even though 90% of my on-campus residents are under the age of 21… AND YET he has banned smoking from campus completely (an activity that is legal for 100% of the population). My own secretary can’t smoke in her own car, and I can’t expel a student for 7 alcohol violations in 6 weeks.

The entire 25-yr experiment was a waste of time, and it has all but destroyed the educational aspects of Student Affairs.

Gartrip on April 7, 2010 at 6:37 PM

American Elephant on April 7, 2010 at 3:16 PM

If you’re still on your parents’ insurance, no alcohol for you.

DrMagnolias on April 7, 2010 at 6:43 PM

That Wisconsin tavern owner should get a medal for having the guts to wear a bears hat.

Tokyo Times on April 7, 2010 at 9:07 PM

Lowering the drinking age to 18 sure worked wonders for Britain, and for Australia (where I live). Instead of 17 and 18 year olds regularly getting boozed ahead of their ‘graduation’ to the world of legal drinking, we’ve got 13, 14 and 15 year olds doing it. Not just a few either – it’s a social epidemic. It took a few years to trickle down but it eventually found its level, based on the ‘I’m going to be legal in a few years anyway’ thinking. Is that what you want?

As for:

While alcohol-related driving fatalities have decreased since standardization of the drinking age, that’s probably a lot more attributable to heavier penalties on enforcement and societal anger over drunk driving in general — which is why fatalities have declined in every age group of drivers

well, good luck with that line of thinking. You can’t take the drinking age out of the mix and expect fatalities to keep dropping.

The Thin Man Returns on April 8, 2010 at 1:10 AM

I personally believe that the legal drinking age should be 35.All I got to say on the subject.

DDT on April 8, 2010 at 3:05 AM

Yes, Gartrip:

Even the parents think it’s ridiculous. Many parents actually purchase the kegs and drop them off for their kids.

Just like parents in Australia buy cartons of beer and bottles of spirits for their 16 year olds in Australia and drop them off at parties where they share it with their 14 and 15 year old mates. Trust me – drop the legal age and within a few years the ‘gonna be legal soon so what does it matter’ attitude will be down to young teens. It’s not a pretty sight seeing a 15 year old girl unconscious on the sidewalk in a pool of her own vomit but it’s the norm in any Australian city on the weekends, just as is the explosion in recent years of young alcohol-related violence victims and PFOs (Pissed and Fell Over) presenting at the emergency departments of our hospitals.

The Thin Man Returns on April 8, 2010 at 3:06 AM

After being stationed in Germany for 5 years I like their system. .05 blood alcohol limit is the norm but young drivers are not allowed any and kids still in school have to leave the bars by midnight.
I say get kids puking drunk a couple time when they are 12-14 and by the time they reach the driving age the appeal of drinking is over and they have an idea of their tolerance and can just have one.

Fitzoid on April 8, 2010 at 3:46 AM

This is where I go more libertarian. This really isn’t an issue with alcohol so much as it is an issue with deciding when someone is an adult.

closetgop on April 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

How about raising the drinking age to 30 as an alternative?

Or even making alcohol another controlled substance. That makes as much sense as allowing the narcotic Nicotine to be sold and not allowing the milder marijuana intoxicant to be sold.

There’s no sane rationale to describe the system we have now beyond “Nanny State.” Make it all legal and make the user responsible for his or her actions while under the influence. Illegal actions undertaken while “under the influence” indicate a lack of responsibility sufficient to prefix any charges with “reckless”.

{^_^}

herself on April 8, 2010 at 4:57 PM

FIFY:

Common Sense on April 7, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Do you realize you contradict your entire argument?

You’re saying alcohol is widely used in secret and easily accessible to those under the legal drinking age through subterfuge and at some considerable risk to those selling/buying, but then blame binge drinking on the idea that they haven’t been given the opportunity to drink in a fully legal, approved, societally sanctioned manner, which encourages moderation.

ButterflyDragon on April 7, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Yes, that’s exactly what’s being said.

And this need to conceal it leads to a “better-get-it-while-it’s-here” mentality, which practically engineers binge drinking. Can’t spread out those 10 drinks over 2-3 days, so better drink ‘em all in one sitting.

Capice?

And the “easily accessible” lasts only as long as there’s no camera on every street corner. Believe me, the more the tentacles of the surveillance state are expanded in this country, the less “easy” this will become.

RD on April 9, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Maybe the question should be…What good would it serve to allow 18 year olds access to more alcohol?
I haven’t seen a reason…

right2bright on April 7, 2010 at 2:58 PM

No, because people don’t agree on what constitutes a “good” being served: some say lowering the drinking age to 18 (the age of adulthood) or even 16 (the age of consent) would serve the good of defunding the fake-ID industry (a criminal enterprise), that it would re-integrate life on college campus (where activities are no longer segregated by whether someone can legally drink), et cetera, while others say those “goods” are not germane in and of themselves.

There’s no inherent definition of what a public ‘good’ is; the whole point of the Reason piece is that the so-called “public safety” argument being used to justify Federal policy is not an inherent good, even if you believe their claims at face value (which they don’t).

So, what are we left with? I’d hope human rights would enter the picture at some point. Or for you, does an individual right, like the right to drink alcohol, have to serve a “good”, as defined by you, in order for it to be a right? On that basis, why not ban alcohol consumption for everyone and re-introduce Prohibition?

For me this descends the same slippery slope used by pro-abortion advocates to justify their policies: in order to circumvent the clear, plain meaning of the Constitution, all we have to do is redefine what a “person” is, or an “adult”, or someone who can give consent, or whatever, until we have what we want. Yeah, raise the age of adulthood to 26. I like that suggestion! Other “benefits” include no more “boys” dying in wars – keep ‘em on the couch playing Xbox.

RD on April 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Comment pages: 1 2