Local News

Lower Legal Drinking Age Suggested

Posted April 19, 2007

— A retired college president is calling on states to lower the legal drinking age to help curb the problem of underage drinking.

John McCardell, a president emeritus and a history professor at Middlebury College in Vermont, said lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 would remove the taboo status from alcohol for many teens. They could then learn how to drink responsibly at an earlier age, he said.

"Drinking has been forced behind closed doors, underground, and in the case of academic institutions, off campus. There should be no surprise that serious, unsupervised, abusive binge drinking is taking place, creating an enormous health risk," McCardell said.

States nationwide raised the legal drinking age from 18, 19 and 20 to 21 about two decades ago.

Critics of the idea say lowering the drinking age would create more irresponsible behavior, not more responsibility, by teens.

About 5,000 young people die every year in alcohol-related incidents, including homicides and car crashes, according to the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

Five Wakefield High School students, for example, have been killed since March 2006 in alcohol-related crashes.

McCardell also suggested instituting a "drinking license" for teens, similar to obtaining a driver's license.


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  • TEPTEP Apr 25, 2007

    When the drinking age was upped to 21 it only made the situation worse, just like what happened when prohibition came about. Thank God prohibition was done away with before the big government Nazis took over this country.

    Lowering the age to 18 or at least giving that power back to the states without threatening to withhold highway funding would be the best thing to happen to this country since the fall of the Soviet Union.

  • jjslilred Apr 23, 2007

    thanks ReelThing...hopefully those who keep arguing for our soldiers to get liquored up will see that its in fact not our soldiers who are pushing for this change. in fact, the individuals who are more apt to support the lowered drinking age are those who are the least likely to serve in the military b/c they're too busy trying to break or rewrite laws than to uphold and defend them. i say that we focus on more important things, like trying to get these same 18-20 years old more involved in voting...a privilege they already posses.

  • lou1996 Apr 22, 2007

    i am on the fence about 18-20 year old military people being legal to drink. i guess if it were to be made legal for them to drink and they get caught in a dui, then they should have to pay much stronger penalties as compared to regular dui laws for non military people 21 and over. but as far as 18-20 year old civilians being legal to drink, no way. i know that not all teenagers are reckless and irresponsible, but i see alot of reckless and irresponsible teenagers behind the wheel quite often. teenagers get their alchohol, drink and drive and get into accidents enough as it is. i honestly feel that lowering the drinking age would be a huge mistake that could cuase the loss of not only the 18-20 year old lives of drunk drivers, but also increasing the rate of lives lost of innocent people who do not drink and drive , drink at all.

  • concerned_citizen4 Apr 21, 2007

    Old enough to defend our country, old enough to drink.

  • Thornedwolf Apr 21, 2007

    "This isn't Europe. We shower regularly here or at least most of us do." Big Yawn
    Yeah and we are a bit behind in the Education department as well.

  • refiman Apr 21, 2007

    I guess the alcohol companies have a good lobbyist and they need to make bigger profits at the cost of children's lives. Good job taking lessons from big tobacco

  • AngelEyes Apr 21, 2007

    As a parent, I have never wanted to make "drinkers" of my kids, but they are going to eventually make their own decisions on these matters. I know that I have shown and taught them responsiblity by not making it against the law under my roof. They have always been told that it is against all law to get behind the steering wheel even after one little drink - and I believe them when they say they have not. My oldest (who is 21 now and living on her own in a town 30 miles away) will refuse even a sip of wine when she knows she'll be driving back home. If her boyfriend is with her - one or the other will completely abstain. I feel they are responsible with their actions b/c they have not had to lie & sneak around about their activities.

  • Thomas Jefferson Apr 20, 2007

    Pelias:I say lower the drinking age to 18 and raise the driving age to 21. Then by the time they're old enough to drive, they'll be over their binge drinking phase.

    I think that's absolutely correct. Driving is a more difficult skill than it first appears, and I believe there is some solid research to support this idea. I suspect that the de facto situation in Europe mirrors this to some degree, and that is why their stats look so good. We would need much better public transportation though. Not going to happen. The whole reason is really about transportation.

  • ReelThing Apr 20, 2007

    An 18 year old that enlist in the military IS able to purchase alcohol. Why should others that just happen to be in this brave person's age class be allowed the same PRIVILEGE? As jjslilred so insightfully pointed out, the military is an environment of discipline and obedience. Have you ever seen an 18 year old thay has recently completed basic training? You know immediately they were put on the fasttrack to maturity. Why not provide a "boot camp" for impatient 18 year olds and let them earn the PRIVILEGE? Better yet, have anyone under 21 caught drnking alcohol sent to a boot camp (if the parents are allowing it, send them too!). WOW! Would we really then take the PRIVILEGE serious?

  • lizzyk4587 Apr 20, 2007

    I say if you are old enough to be in the military and die for your country you should be able to take a drink if you want to.