Should the drinking age (U.S.) be lower?

Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:05 am
I read in the paper today that several colleges are signing on to an initive to lover the drinking age to 18 thinking that it will lead to less binge drinking.

I think that if you're old enough to fight in a war you're old enough to buy a drink but college kids are clearly not off fighting a war.

What do you think?
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Type: Question • Score: 22 • Views: 7,742 • Replies: 72

Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:08 am
i think 18 is just fine for drinking age.
Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:10 am
The reasons behind binge drinking start well before 18.
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:17 am
I think 18 is more than fair. If you are assumed to be adult enough to fight in a way and to vote, then you should have the same rights as everyone else.
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:22 am
I found the article....

RALEIGH, North Carolina " College presidents from about 100 of the best-known U.S. universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.
The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the U.S. drinking age, which is among the highest in the world.

"This is a law that is routinely evaded," said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. "It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory."

Other prominent schools in the group include Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and Morehouse

More: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-08-18-college-drinking_N.htm?csp=34

Making drinking easier would help degalmourize it but it would also make it... well, easier and more acceptable.

I live down the street from Reed College where the students write the rules so they don't have rules against drinking and drugs. Last year a student died from a heroin overdose and it was HUGE front page news, mostly blaming the schools nonexistent rules.

I would imagine that other kids at other schools died from drug overdoses last year, no?
Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:23 am
I think that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. Anything that is forbidden is more likely to be abused. College students are going to drink whenther it is legal or not. Take away the glamor of the "forbidden", and I think that a lot of youngsters will be more temperate in their drinking.

When I was a kid, my parents (who were not serious drinkers) would offer me a small glass of wine at festive occasions. As a result, when I reached adolescence, drinking was no big deal, so I never got deeply involved in it.

Now, if I have two drinks, which I have on rare occasions, I either get a sinus headache, or go to sleep!
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:31 am
I agree with dag. Where I come from, the legal drinking age is 18, and I have
seen far less hoopla about alcohol there than here.
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:38 am
My son attends McGill in Montreal where the legal drinking age is 18. There
seems to be a pretty healthy no-big-deal attitude about it as far as I can tell.

I figure he's going to drink anyway and I'd rather he do it in a relaxed
atmosphere out in the open than at some frat party. He's handled it well so far
(knock wood).
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 11:41 am
Absolutely. It is simple discrimination. Wisconsin was one of, if not the last state to fall in line under threat of losing highway revenues. I've read estimates that they lost more in sales tax revenue.

Younger bar patrons are a pain in the ass to police... but that should tell you that it's a good idea to let them do their drinking there (some policing is better than none). You can't stop the youngsters from drinking anyway, so it strike me as idiotic to ban them from establishments that offer some supervision.

And a guy on leave from Iraq can't order a beer? Pure BS.

I've had quite enough of every law designed to protect people from themselves.
Merry Andrew
Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 03:13 pm
As some of you may know, I am a recovered alcoholic who doesn't drink any more. So let me surprise you by saying that I wholeheartedly endorse lowering the drinking age to 18. It makes no sense at all allow 18-year olds to help elect the president and then tell them they can't celebrate the election results. Here's one of the main reasons I think lowering the age is a good idea: besides fighting binge drinking, it might help stem the tide of illegal drugs.

Some years ago I was at an A.A. meeting where a young woman (about 21 years old or thereabouts) was celebrating her first full year of sobriety and recovery from drug abuse. She said the reason she had become a drug addict as well as an alcoholic was that for an under-age kid drugs are so much easier to obtain. It's hard to get a bottle of liquor if you're under 21. Does that make good sense? Keep 'em away from alcohol so that they'll patronize their local 'street pharmacist'?
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 04:14 pm
I'm surprised that all the responses are in favor of lowering the age, and from such a wide variety of respondants.

Merry, I was waiting in the music school lobby while Mo had his drum class a week or so ago. He takes lessons at the rock school where everyone is young and hip and edgy. I listened in as they all talked about their AA birthdays. It was really eye-opening. The problem is obviously huge.
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 04:23 pm
In Australia it's been 18 for my whole life.

But we still have binge drinkers. Personally I think its cultural. In Spain you can buy a beer from a vending machine anywhere - but I never saw a drunk staggering around in public. If that machine was in Australia when I was a kid we would have poured our pocket money into it.

Does the higher limit in the US work generally? I mean, do most young adults abide by it? If not then forget it, but if it does work you should perhaps consider our nation's respective death rates by road accident and the amount that involve alcohol. Young intoxicated males are very over-represented in our road fatalities. If the rates are the same you reasonably assume the drinking age limit is not a factor in road deaths.
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Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 04:57 pm
I have no problem with changing the drinking age back to 18. It always seemed silly that it was bumped up to 21 to begin with.

I do question the rationale being used by these colleges though. I don't think they are pushing the issue out of a concern for their students or over the issue of binge drinking. IMO, they just don't want to have to deal with the problem of their students getting arrested or for that matter, having to enforce the laws on campus to begin with.
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 04:59 pm
We can thank MADD and weak-kneed, tipping judges for the ridiculous age limit on drinking.

If you are legally an adult at 18, can vote, get prosecuted for statutory rape, and kill and be killed for your country, you, obviously, should be able to legally drink.

I don't blame MADD, but I do blame public officials.

If someone drives drunk and gets caught (let alone injures or kills someone) the punishment should be far more severe than it currently is.

Raising the legal drinking limit to 21 was a politically acceptible band-aide, because with not so much money or influence, someone can beat a DWI.

Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 05:13 pm
boomerang wrote:
I think that if you're old enough to fight in a war you're old enough to buy a drink but college kids are clearly not off fighting a war.

Don't forget voting! We wouldn't want those 18 year olds to be the only people too sober to be duped at the ballot.

On a more constructive note: In Germany, the legal limit for drinking in public is 16 for "soft" drinks like wine and beer, 18 for everything else. When drinking in private, age limit varies from family to family, but is generally lower. Most of my friends got their first "official" drink served at their confirmation, or whatever coming-of-age ritual their religion provided.

I never heard of police raids for underage drinking in private households in Germany. The first one I witnessed happened when I was 18, and a 17 year old friend in Ashland, OR took me out for a party. I remember being shocked about the intrusion into the privacy of a household on such a trivial matter.

The consequences of our lower age limit? I don't have hard numbers, but by my own, subjective observations, German teenagers are much less immature about alcohol than Amerian teenagers. American teenagers get much more turned on, and then screwed up, by this whole forbidden-fruit thing.
Reply Tue 19 Aug, 2008 06:51 pm
I think they should raise the drinking age t0 72 years of age.
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Reply Wed 20 Aug, 2008 12:21 pm
Wisconsin was one of, if not the last state to fall in line under threat of losing highway revenues. I've read estimates that they lost more in sales tax revenue.

Is not the regulation of alcohol a matter of state law? Why don't we hear a constant din of complaints that the federal government forced this upon the states?
Reply Wed 20 Aug, 2008 12:40 pm
Vt was also a long holdout on changing the age down to 18. I lived there when it was dropped from 21 to 18 so that young adults would stop driving to NY and NH where it was 18 and then drive home plastered. I lived there when it was raised from 18 back to 21 as part of the national campaign to force states to comply with a national drinking age (may have been pushed by MADD, I'm not familiar with that).

There WAS a constant din when it happened. Some states (including Vt) filed suits against the Feds claiming that withholding federal transportation dollars from states who didn't raise the drinking age to 21 was extortion. They didn't win.

One goal was a national drinking age so that border towns didn't have bunches of drunk drivers on the roads crossing back and forth across state lines. Another goal was to increase the age to a level that would ensure that those who drank legally were more "responsible" in their decision making abilities. A final goal was probably the return of prohibition but that wasn't in the public documents.

Agreeing with the concept that the age of majority should be the age of majority and that sending someone to war, the ballot booth, prison, etc while saying they aren't old enough to legally buy themselves a beer is ludicrous.
Reply Wed 20 Aug, 2008 01:12 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
I agree that raising the drinking age is the wrong solution.

Lower drinking age to 16, driving to 21, and let kids learn about drunk driving on their bikes.
Reply Wed 20 Aug, 2008 01:30 pm
what's wrong with driving drunk on a bike?

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