POLL: Does The Current Drinking Age Limit Actually Encourage Binge Drinking?

A new campaign arguing that the 21-year-old drinking age is not working, and that it “has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking” on college campuses has been signed by an eclectic group of over 100 college presidents, including those of Duke, Dartmouth, The Ohio State University, and Johns Hopkins.

From the Wall Street Journal:

John McCardell, a history professor and former president of Middlebury College in Vermont, is leading the effort. His group, Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit unaffiliated with the college, has received financial backing from money manger Julian Robertson. Mr. McCardell says he receives no money from the alcohol industry.

He argues current laws drive drinking underground, causing more problems than they solve. “The law is out of step with reality,” he says. “The law is so obviously unjust and discriminatory. It ought to at least be the subject of debate.”

But he and the college presidents are taking on powerful constituencies, including some of their colleagues, the top government traffic-safety agency, the insurance industry and public-health authorities, all of which say the higher drinking age saves lives. Even representatives of the alcohol industry say they support current laws.

A college student interviewed for the piece says she cut back on her drinking once it was no longer forbidden:

Elizabeth Pogust, a 21-year-old senior at Middlebury, says she felt pressured to drink as a freshman. Classmates would quaff alcohol in their rooms before roaming the campus on weekends, she recalls. As they got older, she says, she and her peers learned their lessons. “I’ve noticed a definite change in my attitude once it was no longer forbidden,” she says.

What do you think? Is the 21-year-old drinking age part of the problem — or the solution?



Bid to Reconsider Drinking Age Taps Unlikely Supporters
[WSJ]
List of College Presidents Who Signed The Petition [Amethyst Initiative]

Comments

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  1. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    “Even representatives of the alcohol industry say they support current laws.”

    Did they expect representatives of the alcohol industry, when asked about current laws, to show their boobs and go “woooo!” or something?

  2. lalaland13 says:

    If they’re going up against MADD, they’re going to lose. Hate to say it, but it’s true. I don’t know that 21 does much to stop underage drinking, since my college was full of it (as are most campuses). But it’s too entrenched to change now. Groups will say if we want to lower the drinking age, then we must want to kill more teens. Or something.

  3. dtmoore says:

    Definitely true, I drank way less after I turned 21 than I was drinking when I was 19. Kid’s are basically forced to drink in their apartments so they just get smashed before going out on the town.

  4. gqcarrick says:

    It should absolutely be reconsidered. I graduated in 2003, most of these lawmakers who are deciding this haven’t been in college in decades! When I went to school I knew about alcohol, and how much I could handle because I was given it at 18 because my parents thought I was mature enough for it. When I went to college there were a lot of kids didn’t have the exposure and they went absolutely crazy with booze and had no clue how to control themselves. Lower the age to 18, if you can get married, join the military like an adult, then you should be able to have a drink also.

  5. JeffDrake says:

    No doubt current laws encourage binge drinking. I recently dated a British girl who had drunk alcohol growing up from like age 15 or 16 when she was with her parents. Its something they did, she saw how to drink responsibly, and she did her risky drinking and such while her parents were still around.

    Here, we have a double problem. First, kids get to college and can drink for the first time because there aren’t as many people around to stop them, and its pretty easy to get alcohol. Second, because its still illegal, its “cool” AND its something to hide from people who might encourage you to do it appropriately.

    If the drinking laws were changed to 16, parents could teach their kids about drinking. If the laws were changed to 18, there at least wouldn’t be any reason to hide it, and people would likely drink more in controlled, appropriate situations, not taking turns swilling from a bottle of cheap vodka in a dorm room.

  6. yungjerry703 says:

    smoking makes you look older and cool and so does drinking a beer, it a proven fact.

  7. IndyJaws says:

    Once again, the US could take a lesson from the Europeans (or much of the world, for that matter)…

  8. vividblurry says:

    In a way, I oppose this, because I don’t want to be dealing with a bunch of 18-20 year olds when I go out on weekends.

  9. stezton says:

    Having never been a drinker or gone away to college (attended the college in my city), I don’t get this at all. I also don’t see where they explain how the current law encourages drinking.

    To me this part doesn’t make sense:
    He argues current laws drive drinking underground, causing more problems than they solve. “The law is out of step with reality,” he says. “The law is so obviously unjust and discriminatory. It ought to at least be the subject of debate.”

    To me he makes it sound like since the age is 21, that younger kids hide and do it. Well if the age is lowered then kids younger than the new law would hide and do it. What’s the difference?

  10. IndyJaws says:

    Instead, we just steal their TV shows.

  11. shorty63136 says:

    The current LAW has absolutely NOTHING to do with it. What did your PARENTS teach you about alcohol? If they let you run amok and didn’t teach you anything or say anything or just let it slide thinking you’d make good decisions, then that speaks volumes.

    My old man (mom died 2 weeks into my freshman year of college and I’d never touched alcohol before then) sat me down and said, “Look, kid. Your grandpa (my dad) was a stone-cold mean drunk who drank himself to death. It unfortunately runs in my family but I did what I had to do to make sure I was a better father than he was. I know you’re gonna drink, but watch that shit. I don’t care WHERE you are, if you are drunk or whoever is driving is drunk I WILL COME GET YOU or I will send someone to get you. I won’t be mad. I swear I will come get you.”

    And then he ran down the DOs and DON’Ts of leaving drinks around, what people will do, etc.

    He did the same thing with pot – told me it was okay but if I ever got in trouble with it, he couldn’t help me. Then he told me how to roll a joint.

    Talk to your kids – you’ve been there and done that. This ain’t got shit to do w/ the LAW because THAT’S not going to help a damn thing if our culture is to let kids do as they please with no guidance anyway.

  12. I_Spy says:

    Perhaps the drinkning age should be lowered, and the driving age should be increased. I hate to point at Europe and say that they’re right but…as an American living overseas I see this all the time and can’t help but think that this is the right answer. Access to alcohol comes at an early age, and the keys to the car come much later; usually after the kids have gotten the binge portion of drinking out of the way and have learned some responsibility based on real life experiences.

  13. temporaryerror says:

    Ah, 21… The age at which strippers and soldiers can legally drink.

    I binged 3-4 times a week when I was under 21 in college. After I turned 21 I went to bars several times per week for a few months, but after that my drinking dropped dramatically, until I all but quit drinking at about 22-23.

  14. APFPilot says:

    I would agree 100% when I turned 21 my drinking went way down.

  15. shorty63136 says:

    Clarification: I never smoked w/ my dad – that’s just weird.

  16. Hawk07 says:

    I find it funny the president of Duke is one of the big names pushing for a reconsideration of the drinking age.

    I guess the whole Lacrosse incident didn’t teach them anything.

    Yes, I know the players were innocent, Mike Nifong was ultimately disbarred, and nothing true came of the investigation, but alcohol didn’t exactly expedite the defendants innocence.

  17. stezton says:

    @shorty63136:

    I really like your dad’s no nonsense approach. Kudos to him.

  18. gqcarrick says:

    @stezton: The difference is that when you go away to school you have far less supervision. When you are at home if you have somewhat observant parents they can tell if you are drinking.

  19. Charles Duffy says:

    @stezton: Younger kids are living with their parents, who have the ability and responsibility to maintain oversight; that’s the difference.

  20. nataku8_e30 says:

    Eh, I don’t think it’d have much affect either way. A lot of the binge drinking in the 18-21 demographic is more maturity related and less of a legality issue. I think it would help lower college tuition, though, since colleges and universities would have less legal responsibility for drinking related injuries and deaths.

  21. rpm773 says:

    I don’t know about some of the logic here. Why do people drink less or drink more responsibly when they’re older? Because they’ve gotten the binging out of their system when they were younger. Well, if the drinking age is lowered to 19, won’t that advance the binging, alcohol-is-a-novelty age up to a younger age?

    I’m not morally opposed to lowering the age per se, but I’m suspicious that it won’t fix the problem the group is trying to address.

  22. shorty63136 says:

    @stezton: And I soooooooo appreciate him for it! Some people try to shield and protect their kids from the real world, then when they get tossed into it, they don’t know how to react or behave. My parents were strict up until I graduated high school and I had a lot of responsibility b/c I showed they could trust me. Be real with your kids and they will handle themselves accordingly.

    I did get drunk and have my dad come get me once – ONCE. And quite frankly, I was RATHER embarrassed. I’ve called a friend to come get me after that, but knowing he WILL means everything in the world.

  23. stezton says:

    ah. K. Thanks Charles Duffy & gqcarrick. I see what ya’ll are saying.

  24. PinkBox says:

    Is there anyone here who didn’t drink before turning 21? I think I was 17 or 18 when I had my first alcoholic drinks.

  25. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Using the Brits as an example is a bad idea. They do more binge drinking than anybody else. Not only do I know this from growing up in both London and the US, but it’s pretty well documented. Lots of articles in UK newspapers about youth binge drinking. @JeffDrake:

  26. TouchMyMonkey says:

    I think people who are binge drinking will do so regardless of the “official” drinking age. I think it ought to be the same age as Selective Service eligibility, voting eligibility, etc. Coupled with ruthless enforcement of .08 BAC on the road, we ought to be just fine.

    @APFPilot: Granted, one is more mature at 21 than one is at 18. I doubt the legality of one’s drinking enters into it.

  27. acknight says:

    @shorty63136: Part of the problem is that the current laws tend to discourage a proper (i.e. controlled) introduction to alcohol by parents.

    Prohibition does little other than increase the desire to drink. Hence why the attraction is lessened after 21, on average – it’s no longer the “forbidden fruit.”

  28. campredeye says:

    Lowering the age will reduce the citations and arrests for underage drinking obviously.

    I never actually started until I was 18 or 19 anyway, and that was with my family when I was at our lake house.

    But as shorty63136 said, its all on how you are raised. I was extremely careful, and never got caught, or got into any accidents or trouble. The occasional night spent on the bathroom floor though… thats another story.

  29. brennan_bm says:

    I voted no but upon reconsideration I think they should get rid of age restrictions all together, because all the deaths from alcohol poisoning would really help thin the herd of genetic defects.

  30. mzhartz says:

    I’m torn on the issue. But I definitely agree that it starts at home, regardless of the legal drinking age. My parents let me have alcohol as a teenager and taught me how to drink responsibly. I’m now 27, and I’ve only ever had one hangover. I never had a reason to binge drink because having a drink here and there was accepted in my family.

  31. brennan_bm says:

    I also think DUIs should be punishable by death if they do lower the drinking age.

  32. acknight says:

    @HurtsSoGood: Arguably, numeric age has little to do with maturity. I know 18 year olds who are more mature than 25-30 year olds that I know.

  33. dako81 says:

    How about instead of sheltering children and trying to keep them as young as possible for as long as possible, try exposing them to different things. In the places in Europe where my girlfriend has been where there were really low drinking ages, the youth didn’t think it was a big deal since they were used to having a glass of wine at dinner or another drink here and there. They didn’t feel the need to get wasted.

    It’s like the forbidden fruit, and like women actually now I think about it, you tell them they can’t have something, so they want it more, and when they get it, they always have to have more than they’ll ever need.

  34. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Look. There are places where you can socially drink and have a beer or two. With family. At a bar. At a restaurant. Sitting on a blanket in the park. There are also places where peer pressure encourages you to do a dozen shots and get s***faced. These places tend to be small amped up parties where people yell “Drink. Drink. Drink.” at the top of their lungs. Or in the backseat of your car hiding from the cops. Unfortunately the 21-year old drinking age eliminates the possibility of the casual drinking spots and even criminalizes parents who want to give their 16 year old a sniff of wine. So we’re left with no place for kids to learn to drink but with their buddies who are chugging Peppermint Schnapps and puking it all up.

  35. I think lowering the drinking ages on campuses would be a great idea. I could even see how it could cut drinking and driving. Since most campii have only a few exits/entrances for students, every weekend, you park a few cop cars at each of them. This would save money for the local towns, as instead of setting up checkpoints on main roads, you can focus on the campus. This will scare kids into not driving. The lower age will also mean the avoiding of persecution for drinking on campus underage, so kids will be less likely to try and fit as much alcohol into their bodies in the shortest amount of time.

  36. jtlight says:

    As a former college student, it most definitely encourages binge drinking. Though alcohol can be easy to get, you feel like it’s a limited substance, so you consume as much as you can. After 21, I drank around the same amount overall, but I’d have a couple drinks every day as opposed to having 10 drinks in one night.

  37. brennan_bm says:

    It’s our culture that encourages binge drinking and DUIs, not the drinking age, I forsee only more to come with this.

  38. cjones27 says:

    @stezton: The difference should be fairly obvious – now people between 18 and 21 wouldn’t hide it. Kids younger than the laws will always do it and hide it, but lowering the drinking age would make that number smaller.

    You know, it could just be that people drink less after 21 because they’ve grown up and are more mature, rather than because of a drinking age…

  39. Hate_Brian_Club_I'mNotOnlyThePresidentI'mAClient says:

    I’m all for lowering it, just out of principal. Being able to vote, get married, go to war and all that but not have a sip of alcohol is ridiculous, but…Americans have an incredibly unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Lowering the drinking age isn’t going to solve that and neither are MADD sponsored adverts or government warnings.

    There need to be more frank discussions about alcohol in homes, but considering how many adults can’t handle their booze, they can hardly be relied upon to teach their children any better.

    Also: I look forward to more 18 year old girls being at the bar.

  40. fizzyg says:

    When you’re told that you can’t do something, you tend to want to do it more. As jtlight said, if you feel that you don’t have access to this on a regular basis, you’re more likely to use as much as you can get while you can get it vs. just holding off. These are findings that do exist for a variety of things, so it stands to reason that they would exist for alcohol.

  41. lorderiks says:

    I found that once I was able to drink legally I drank far less. Less need to get blasted at a party when you can walk into a store and buy your own and enjoy at your own pace.

    I think people that are going to drink and drive are the same people who are doing it now regardless of age.

  42. no.no.notorious says:

    THE ONLY THING that holds me back from saying ‘hey the drinking age should be 18!!” is that…

    many people don’t get their full drivers licenses until they’re 18 years old. think of how many people, who are now able to stay out past 9 pm, would head out to the bars to celebrate?

    It makes more sense to have the drinking age as 18 instead of 21, but the rules about obtaining a driver’s license need to change as well. I also think more parents should teach their children how to drink responsibly in the home. I was always allowed a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, and today, I rarely get “wasted.”

    @IndyJaws: yeah, we’re also taken a lesson from the Europeans by selling less product for more expensive prices.

  43. 12-Inch Idongivafuck Sandwich says:

    College kids under 21 definitely binge drink, and it’s pretty much because they have to (if they want to drink).

    They want to go out to the bars and socialize, but they can’t drink there. So instead of being able to go to the bar, have some drinks over the course of the evening and socialize, they end up drinking way too much early, so the effects last throughout the night.

    It’s the sort of thing that if you think about it, MADD should be interested in going along with. With the current laws, you get underage kids driving drunk twice as much (to the bar and then back from the bar), while if these kids weren’t pressured to drink heavy at home first, that leg of the trip would be safer (and you may get the people who decide “lets get a cab home, we’re too drunk” as opposed to the “I drove here safely like this, I can drive home like this too”)

    Just something to think about…

  44. cmdrsass says:

    Not many 16 or 17 year olds know a 21 years old, but they all know somebody who’s 18. Lowering the drinking age would make alcohol even more available to high schoolers. So what they’re really asking is do we want to encourage people to drink at a younger age? The answer should be no.

  45. friendlynerd says:

    I just don’t see the point of blowing wads of taxpayer money trying to enforce un-enforceable laws.

    Most people drink before 21, and I think the fact that you’re “not allowed to” increases the sex appeal. People think they’re putting one over on “the man.”

  46. ltlbbynthn says:

    @PinkBox: I know several people who have waited till they were 21 to drink, and they are WEIRD.

    I drank when I was in high school, and I didn’t hide it from my mom because she doesn’t believe there should be a drinking age at all. I think a lot of the binge drinking comes from kids not knowing how much they can handle, and it’s cool to get plastered.

    I really don’t think changing the drinking age will alter kids’ behavior that much, but it could help cut down on drunk driving because drunk kids wouldn’t be so afraid to call someone for a ride home. You know those outfits that offer free cab rides home on New Year’s and Saint Patrick’s Day? You can’t call them if you’re under 21. How dangerous is that?

  47. Sunflower1970 says:

    Lower it. I binged when I was in college between 18-21. When I turned 21 and could go to a bar, it really wasn’t fun any more. I rarely drink now.

    Many of these lawmakers were around at a time when the drinking age was 18 and then changed to 21…Many of them COULD drink at the age of 18 when they were growing up…How can they not remember what it was like? Selective memory or something?

  48. AI says:

    If you’re old enough to go to war, if you’re old enough to pay taxes, if you’re old enough to be criminally responsible then you should be old enough to have a beer. Of course I’m from Alberta where the legal age is 18, so I never had any problems up here, but don’t get me started on the BC and Sask legal age being 19.

  49. theblackdog says:

    I must be a freak, I did more drinking after I turned 21 than before.

  50. shorty63136 says:

    @acknight: I am in no way buying “the laws discourage proper introduction by parents” theory. Your parents don’t have to GIVE you alcohol to be able to tell you about it. You might call it scare tactics, but when presented in a realistic fashion, they’re truth tactics.

    And I take that back – I did touch alcohol before college – but it was in a rather controlled way and never around friends. My dad gave me cheap beer to gargle with when I had a sore throat (could be the reason I hate beer to this day), my mom let me have champagne on New Year’s Eve and I hated it. It tasted like gorified beer.

    There are plenty of ways for you to talk to your kids about alcohol and it doesn’t have to be all cheesy or scary and shit although with some kids that’s the best way to get through to them.

    No matter what the LAW says, your parents are your first teachers and enforcers of rules. If they’re not telling you what the deal is, then they should (or should have). Granted, you’ll still be the one to decide whether you pick up that drink or get into that car, but having parents be honest with you goes a longer way than you can ever imagine.

  51. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    @rpm773:
    I disagree that the binging age would go down. The younger people would have more supervision from their parents. Someone whose 19 doesn’t have to worry about parental supervision.

    I think this is a rights issue. At 18 you are an adult in every way, except you can’t drink. How this is not age discrimination is beyond me. (BTW, howmany commenters here have referred to the 18-21 group as “kids?”)

  52. floraposte says:

    I’m at a big land-grant university, which has not signed the petition. The underage drinking here isn’t hidden, and it’s part of the expected scene and a major source of revenue for local businesses. Simply changing the legal age isn’t going to change that culture and allow students to develop a more socially appropriate way of including alcohol in their lives–that has, as other posters have noted, to start before that. While I do think it might encourage students to call earlier in cases of dangerous alcohol poisoning, I think the drinking and driving rate would likely rise as well, and that that’s likely to have higher morbidity/mortality than is prevented.

    I think there’s a reasonable argument behind the “if I’m a legal and draftable adult, why can’t I drink?” question, but that’s not the argument being made here. And for this campus, I don’t think their argument holds…water.

  53. weave says:

    @AirIntake: Amen. I think it’s horrible that we have soldiers fighting for our freedoms, yet when they are on leave they don’t have the freedom to drink responsibly. So we trust these young people with a gun and the responsibility to use it but not to have a beer or two when on leave?

    I think at minimum the law should be changed to allow 18-20 year olds to drink if they have a current military ID.

  54. vladthepaler says:

    If the laws were actually enforced, there wouldn’t be a problem. Or if Americans believed in being responsible for their own actions…

  55. bohemian says:

    It totally changed the level of drinking at the colleges here. It went from going to the “college bars” to socialize and drink to house parties where getting as smashed as possible was the main entertainment.

    The drinking age was raised at the demand of MADD in the first place and federal highway funds were held hostage to force compliance. It has been a miserable failure, change it back.

    MADD is as bad as PETA.

  56. plural_of_moose says:

    Being a current college student, I’m all for lowering the drinking age to 18, or maybe even 16. Dropping the age would let teenagers be teenagers, and not risk criminal records just for having above a .02. If kids didn’t have to hide drinking, ideally then the parents would be around when the kids drink (versus the “parents are outta town so let’s get wasted” parties), and could be sober judges of who’s staying the night and making sure DDs are sober as well. With kids being able to learn their limits in a safe environment, with supervision and people to take care of them if they overdrink, they’d be less likely to go out and see how much they can drink the day they move into college.
    Granted, there would inevitably be the enormous parties when the parents were out of town and things get broken and the cops called. And then any 16 year olds that were drunk and disorderly could be charged as such, to reinforce that you need to behave yourself. And for the states which give 16 year olds drivers’ licenses, make it a 2-4 year suspension of their license to give them a strong enough incentive not to drunk drive.
    I think it makes a lot of sense lowering the drinking age, guess we’ll see what happens

  57. diasdiem says:

    I’d heard that depending on where you live it’s legal for a parent to buy you a beer or a glass of wine at a restaurant, but that may just be a myth.

    What if they issued drinking licenses? Like at say 16 you take an alcohol awareness class (drinker’s ed) and took a test, and after passing you get an ID with a bar code that could be scanned at bars, restaurants, convenience stores, etc. The card would have a preset number of daily and weekly drinks you could purchase (no rolling unused drinks into the next day, limit resets daily), and it would let vendors know if you were over the limit when they run the card. The number of drinks you could buy would depend on your age, increasing until you become fully legal to drink. No buying bottles of liquor, kegs, six-packs. Only singles. Get caught hoarding beers, distributing them to a minor with or without a license, using a fake ID, etc. and you lose your drinking AND your driving license. Violate again while on suspension, and you get in real trouble.

  58. enm4r says:

    @GreatCaesarsGhost: Spot on. This is absolutely a rights issue, and the fact that binge drinking may or may not decrease really is a moot point. If I can throw on an Eagle Globe and Anchor, fly halfway across the world to get shot at, I should be able to walk into any bar in the US and order a beer. Simple as that.

    The binge drinking angle marginalizes the real issue at hand, which is equality.

  59. The problem you run into trying to lower it, however, is with the federal government. Since drinking ages are set by the states, the federal government strongarms the 21 rule by refusing to give funds for road construction of the drinking age is younger. So sure, a state could change the drinking age to 18 – then lose millions of dollars.

  60. LeJerk says:

    Maybe you drank less after you turned 21 because you were a bit more mature. Hmm?

  61. morganlh85 says:

    I agree that we need to loosen up the stigma on alcohol in this country. The only downside I can see to lowering the drinking age to 18 is that it will be much easier to underage teens to get ahold of alcohol; when I was 16 I didn’t know any 21 year olds who could buy me alcohol, but I knew LOTS Of 18 year olds. Many 18 year olds in high school would end up throwing all the alcohol-rich parties for their underage friends.

    So maybe 19 should be the drinking age, like in Canada, keeping at least a good chunk of drinking-age teens out of high school.

  62. Eels says:

    I like that the president of OSU is in on this. I think that college offers degrees in binge drinking. From Friday to Sunday every lawn is littered with drunk kids playing that stupid beanbag game. If you like getting really wasted off natty ice, go to Ohio State!

  63. Sevarious says:

    Based on numerous unscientific observations made as I was in high school and in college, the drinking age doesn’t prevent people from drinking. Keggers were regularly discussed in my senior year of high school. In college people routinely offered to buy me drinks even though I was well underage. Basically if you want booze and aren’t living under parental house arrest, you’re going to be able to get it.

    Current alcohol culture tends to make drinking into the supreme right of passage into adulthood. I can vote at 18. I can join the army. I can get married. I can smoke. But I can’t drink. WTF? Hence massive bing drinking on your 21st birthday or you are lame.

    To be fair, I’m not sure if lowering the drinking age will somehow cause alcohol to not be the supreme right of passage into adulthood. Lets be honest. The smokers are already smoking well before 18. Most people don’t join the army or get married at 18 (or anywhere near that age). And political opinions start forming from well below age 18. Hell, lots of people even have sex before 18. This pretty much leaves drinking as what you’re going to start doing as soon as you hit 18.

    Eliminating the drinking age altogether might be a possibility. If kids could have some beer or wine at home with meals it may well lose its appeal as some kind of mystery adults only substance. Of course there are health issues to consider.

    Personally, I’d like to see a combination of liberalizing the drinking age and significant strengthening of DUI laws. Drink as much as you want whenever you want, but if you get into a car drunk off your ass and put everyone else in danger, expect a significant legal bitch slap.

  64. ScarletBegonias says:

    If the drinking age was lowered to 18 then less kids would be sneaking around and hiding the fact that they are smashed from their parents. At 18 you are usually getting ready to leave for college and that summer before is filled with getting smashed and driving home, and hoping that your parents dont catch you. If it was legal for you to drink at 18 then you wouldnt have to be shady about it, thus less accidents.

    or so my logic goes…

  65. diasdiem says:

    I think drinking should be allowed when kids are teenagers, where their parents can supervise, rather than wait until they’re off at college by themselves. There’s never been a child born that ever had a healthy respect for fire until they got burned. But if my kids were going to play with matches I’d want it to be with me standing nearby with a fire extinguisher and some ointment rather than off with their dumbass friends and a can of kerosene.

  66. RandomHookup says:

    As a certifiable old fart, I strongly support any changes in the law that would increase the number of drunken 18 and 19 year old girls in bars. Simply for observational purposes, mind you.

  67. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    @lalaland13: If they’re going up against MADD, they’re going to lose. Hate to say it, but it’s true. I don’t know that 21 does much to stop underage drinking, since my college was full of it (as are most campuses). But it’s too entrenched to change now. Groups will say if we want to lower the drinking age, then we must want to kill more teens. Or something.

    Which is patently ridiculous. You can get married, even die for your country at 18. You’d better not have a shot of liquor, can of beer, or glass of wine though! MADD is populated by people as bad as fundamentalists in my opinion. To the lady that started this all these years ago because of her dead kid, I’m sorry your kid died. I know about wrong place / time better than most. Punishing everyone else in the US, however, is ridiculous.

    All we’ve done is create the opposite of what we want. Drinking is “cool”, especially by underage kids. Heck, high-schoolers now consider it cooler than f*ck to get plastered. I remember when drinking simply was, well, drinking. All of this extreme rebel attitude about it didn’t exist. Did people drink and drive? Yep. Do people still drink and drive? Yep. That ever going to change? Nope.

    That doesn’t mean not providing punishment to those whom endanger others by driving drunk. We shouldn’t punish people not doing anything wrong, however.

  68. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @acknight: Arguably, but we’re not talking about a particular 18 year old or a particular 25-30 year old, are we? Just because some 12 year olds can play the piano on the professional level (after being locked in the basement with a piano for six years) doesn’t mean your 12 year old can.

  69. theantidote says:

    I don’t remember all this much news about teenagers dying from binge drinking or young people drinking too much in general in the 80s before the law passed which enforced the drinking age at 21.

  70. dracona1031 says:

    I agree that the age should be changed to 18. I started drinking at 17 or song because it was “the cool thing to do.” It was dumb, and I was sick of the binge drinking culture real quick. None of us ever drove – the rule was, one drink, you’re sleeping over. The only reason for the excess was that, hey, you never know when you’ll get it again, so why not get the most you can out of it?

    That said, I think that the way this should be handled should be to require a similar course as the prelicensing for the driver’s license. Once you turn 18, you can take the 5 hour alcohol awareness course, and that makes you legally able to drink. Heavily enforce .08, with breathalyzers available anywhere alcohol is offered to drink outside of the home, and keep kids educated about it. Of course, it’d be grand if the parents would do their share, but personally I don’t think most parents even teach their kids manners these days to begin with.

  71. keith4298 says:

    @floraposte: If you want the drinking age to be lowered, just fight to get the draft again.

    I’m old enough to fight and die, but not to have a drink worked the first time around….

  72. HogwartsAlum says:

    @PinkBox:

    I didn’t, but that was because I was a huge nerd. It was my sister who hid the malt duck in her closet and got in trouble for staying out late.

    The reason people don’t drink as much when they get older is because 18-21 year olds are inexperienced in EVERYTHING, not just drinking. It has nothing to do with whether or not you binged. I knew people in high school who partied just as hard as I did in college. Once you get out of that supervision thing, even a nerd like me can become a party animal, because at that age, you still don’t have a lot of self-discipline.

    As for my own belief:
    1) Keep the drinking age at 21.
    2) Raise the draft age. Stop sending children to war.

    *slips on Birkenstocks and wanders off to hug a tree*

  73. keith4298 says:

    It should be noted that each State can make their own drinking age and have it be below 21, they just lose highway funding and other gifts from the Fed. gov’t.

    Blackmail is legal apparently if you run a Country!

  74. psyop63b says:

    Keeping the age at 21 creates the “underground” culture that surrounds underage drinking. It’s what makes binge drinking so appealing. The law makes being under 21 and drinking responsibly incompatible. You could argue that lowering the drinking age will undermine the appeal of drinking recklessly.

    On the other hand, lowering the drinking age to 18 would mean political crucifixion for whoever approved it in the event there is even one alcohol-related death caused by an 18-20 year-old drinker.

  75. xwildebeestx says:

    Funny how most of the people that oppose lowering the drinking age back down to 18 were legally able to drink at 18…

  76. haeli says:

    @theblackdog: Apparently, I am too. I didn’t really drink at all until after I turned 21, (and that’s even with me joining a sorority freshman year!). But, alcohol was never a very big deal in my family, so maybe I was just more mature with dealing with it. Also, I never wanted to do the whole illegal thing.

    I agree with those who say it’d be even easier for high school kids to drink if the drinking age is lowered to 18. I myself just don’t think it’s a good idea to lower the drinking age.

  77. Pizza_Guy says:

    The law doesn’t encourage binge drinking, alcohol encourages binge drinking. The reason most people slow down after turning 21 is the hangovers start to hurt more and the cause and effect portion of the brain actually begins to work around that age. Blaming the law is just peoples way of passing the buck.

  78. xwildebeestx says:

    @keith4298: It should be noted that each State can make their own drinking age and have it be below 21, they just lose highway funding and other gifts from the Fed. gov’t.

    Blackmail is legal apparently if you run a Country!

    Especially if you’re MADD, one of the most militant, fundamentalist-minded groups in the country. It’s their lobbying that put that policy on the books.

  79. kretara says:

    I drank far more from 15-21 than I did from 21-26.
    I drank mostly because I thought it was ‘cool’ to drink when I was not supposed to.

    If we will not drop the legal age to 18, then we need to up the draft/voting/age of consent to 21.

  80. mbz32190 says:

    I doubt the law will get changed but 21 is ridiculous. I don’t know percentages but I would guess the majority has had some form of alcohol before that age (me included, being under 21). Just look at any other country where drinking, marijuana, etc, is allowed at a young age or no restrictions at all. Because it is “common”, it isn’t all that fun, and would drastically reduce problems we see in this country.

  81. eeebee says:

    I have a 16-year-old boy and an 18-year-old boy and I definitely think the drinking age should be lowered, maybe 19 is the ideal age. The 18-year-old is definitely in the drinking scene and the 16-year-old is not yet. Plenty of high schoolers are drinking and they are getting it somehow so I don’t think they would be getting more of it if the drinking age was lowered. The high school kids are drinking a lot more hard alcohol now than when I was in high school because it gets them drunk faster and it’s not harder to get than beer. A “handle” of Captain Morgan’s is the most popular thing at my son’s high school parties. The drinking age when I was in high school in Virginia was 18 for everything. Then I went to college in Ohio and they had, I think, the ideal situation of 3.2 beer for 18-year-olds and full strength beer and wine and hard alcohol for 21+. I happily went through college drinking 3.2 beer and plenty of it, good for me because I was a tiny person and a lightweight.

    The big difference between kids now and kids when I was in high school is the attitudes towards drinking and driving. It was no big deal for us and everybody was doing it, parents included, and the penalties were not that severe. I graduated before MADD came on the scene. The kids now have been indoctrinated since early elementary school to not drink and drive. There seems to be a lot more planning ahead of time when it comes to drinking and getting the designated driver. When the 16-year-old goes out, they all drive their own cars to the designated spot. The 18-year-old, however, will have a convoluted scheme of who’s picking up who to get to where they’re going and they take turns not drinking. When there is a drunk driving accident around here, it is almost invariably a white male in his 40′s or a non-English-speaking person from Mexico.

  82. Pupator says:

    The problem isn’t that it’s “forbidden fruit,” it’s that lots of people are idiots.

    Making it legal isn’t going to make them any less stupid. They’re still going to get plastered on cheap beer in their dorm or apartments because it’s cheaper. They’re still going to act like morons in public because – I repeat – they’re idiots.

    I’m not sure that I’m for changing the law (I think 21 is a reasonable age) but I do often think that the only people between 18-21 who don’t drink because of the law are probably the ones who would drink most responsibly.

  83. Jubilance22 says:

    My parents let me drink a bit when I was in high school, provided that I didn’t go anywhere once I started drinking. Nothing major, a glas of wine or two, or a Smirnoff Ice-type beverage.

    In college is when I was introduced to the hard liquor and drinking lots of it. I lived in a freshman-only dorm and it was supposed to be substance-free, but I managed to drink more there than in the rest of my college years. Certainly a big part of it was the “Hey, I’m breaking the rules!” feeling of getting drunk right under your RA’s nose.

    Honestly, I didn’t slow down on the hard drinking until I left grad school. Drinking was our outlet and we were at the bar at least 5 nights a week.

  84. friendlynerd says:

    @vladthepaler:
    The problem is that the law is arbitrary when every other requirement to be an “adult” is set at 18.

  85. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    @Pizza_Guy: The law doesn’t encourage binge drinking, alcohol encourages binge drinking. The reason most people slow down after turning 21 is the hangovers start to hurt more and the cause and effect portion of the brain actually begins to work around that age. Blaming the law is just peoples way of passing the buck.

    I rarely drink now, maybe a couple times a year. I don’t know how old you are, but I’m FAR over 21. Tell you what though, I didn’t quit drinking because of “hangovers” because I don’t really get them. I’ll meet ya sometime if you’d like to try that theory. My best example was a few months back, the old man and I were knocking back beers (a 12 pack of Labatt Maximum Ice, six pack of Guinness Draught [okay I drank most of that 5 to 1], Some Leinenkeugels berry crap [he drank most of that], Scotch (neat), and shots of chilled Akavit.

    Two 16oz glasses of water before bed (which makes you need to pee even more), and a 16oz glass of water with every pee, and you’ll not get a hangover.

    FYI, I quit drinking because blowing all that money drinking wasn’t worth it.

  86. TouchMyMonkey says:

    @AirIntake: Ontario is 19, too. I guess the idea (a good one, IMO) is to keep the stuff out of reach until one graduates from high school. I still say, old enough to go to war == old enough to drink beer.

  87. QuantumRiff says:

    My cousin is 18, and headed off for college out of state. Our family has made it a point to have her drink with us, because we want her to know what her limits are BEFORE some frat boy tries to show her.

    I do like the idea of lowering the drinking age. If you go to a Bar, the bartender is not allowed to serve you any alcohol if you are drunk (at least in OR). Those rules don’t exist at your buddies party..

  88. acknight says:

    @HurtsSoGood: Sure. But generalizing an untrue argument that a specific age defines maturity shouldn’t be used as an argument for keeping the current age, either.

    Use actually quantifiable or qualitative rules for maturity, then you may have a starting point. But age by no means is a rule for whether a person is mature or not.

  89. iMe2 says:

    @Pupator: Being an idiot and plastered with friends was by far the most fun thing going on – both in a boring suburb in high school and a middle-of-nowhere college. Just the activity of obtaining alcohol was fun and exciting, in itself a cause of celebration, actually. The fact that no authority (parents/cops) sanctioned it made it even more fun because we had to hide it. Almost getting caught is terribly fun as well.

    Bring that out in the open and giving people the option to have a mature attitude about it will absolutely make it less enticing. It might even make people less stupid about drinking.

  90. nidolke says:

    If the drinking age was 18, kids 14-17 would be going through the wild college type of drinking that college kids are doing. If you can’t resist peer pressure as an 18, 19, or 20 year old, then it’s your own damn fault. Don’t be stupid.

  91. moore850 says:

    As an Alumni of one of those big schools noted above, I made the following observations when I was a student:
    1. I got an incredible amount of pressure to drink underage from peers.
    2. The vast majority of them got into trouble from their activities drunk, but I don’t know of anyone that actually got arrested for underage drinking, that’s how much the cops condoned it. There were hundreds of regular multi-keg parties at well-publicized locations where no ID was required to drink.
    3. As soon as i turned 21, 99% of all pressure noted in #1 stopped dead. Now when I decline a drink it means nothing, where before i was “gay”, “stupid”, and worse for not taking a drink.

  92. Robobot says:

    My university is leading the fight to lower the drinking age. At the same time, they’re trying to make educated and responsible drinkers out of us, even the underage drinkers. It works! Everyone I have met here is very against drunk driving and misc. rowdy behavior. There are always going to be a few kids who act like idiots, but there are plenty of adults who make dumb decisions too. We’re more mature than the law gives us credit for.

    My dad actually sent me this article a few days ago and we both agreed that it’s a good idea. The drinking age was lowered to 18 when he was 18 and raised to 21 the year he turned 21, so he has seen first hand how the drinking age effects college kids.

    Overall kids are going to drink no matter what. Kids drink in high school, at private religious colleges, and even at prestigious institutions. We may as well facilitate a healthy drinking culture. I’m proud to say that one already exists at my school. But I’d REALLY like to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner without feeling like a criminal.

  93. huadpe says:

    As someone going to college where there’s an 18 drinking age (Quebec), I have to say that it really isn’t a big deal. If people are going to drink, they’re going to drink, and you can’t stop them. Having it be legal makes it possible to offer safety services to prevent injury and the like. For example, McGill Walksafe will walk people home if they feel unsafe or need someone to help them.

    Also, I enjoy a good wine every now and then, and I can go to the store and buy a nice cote de rhone

  94. Johnyq1982 says:

    I agree with this idea on certain points and disagree on others.

    The main point of this movement is that underage drinking occurs most at house parties and such, but if you all of the sudden give 18 year old’s access to kegs, thirty racks, and liquor it would probably have the opposite effect.

    At the same time they still manage to get a hold of alcohol anyways, so why waste time enforcing laws that are so easy to circumvent. This time could be better spent on DWI patrols/checkpoints, enforcing noise ordinance complaints (as anyone who went to college knows this how parties really get broken up), and public intoxication laws.

    If these kids want to drink they are going to drink. If you want freedom, you have to also accept responsibility. This an age group where being responsible for your own decisions is in short supply. If you give them this freedom, you damn well better back it up with zero tolerance DWI laws (under 21), and serious consequences for those who act like drunken fools in public.

  95. captadam says:

    MADD is a classic example of mission creep. They’ve gone from a group with a good focus to a bunch of finger-wagging scolds trying to make alcohol unavailable. They’ve gone from “drink responsibly” to “don’t drink at all!”

  96. gqcarrick says:

    @cmdrsass: And if those 16 or 17 year olds have responsible parents who actually pay attention they wouldn’t be able to get alcohol from an 18 yr old.

  97. AceKicker says:

    This past weekend I was doing motorcycle training, and one of my classmates was a great guy from Belgium that had been living state side for a couple years. We had great conversations. He loves the US, but he did find a few things odd, like a drinking age of 21. Didn’t make any sense to him at all. Didn’t see the logic since there wasn’t a drunken epidemic in Europe, so why is it necessary to draw more attention to it? If you can fight in a warzone at 18, why do you have to wait 3 more years to drink?

    And I really have to agree with him.

  98. Eilonwynn says:

    Sibling and I had been receiving wine at christmas parties and such since we were about twelve. Taught to drink responsibly, and I haven’t been carded since I was fourteen. I absolutely believe it is the parents’ job to explain to kids the difference between social drinking, binging, and alcoholism. Just because one president’s wife had an issue with it, the whole country focuses far too much on the topic. I live in Ontario, where the drinking age is 19 and strippers can bare all. Wanna guess what the lineups at the border at 9 pm on Friday consist of? While we can’t mandate that the parents discuss the issue with their kids, you can mandate that the drinking age begin when the kids are still at home, so that parents have a fair whack more responsibility with regard to it. To foist the policing responsibility onto universities and colleges is ridiculous, and the “zero tolerance” penalties are even moreso. By all means, lower the drinking age, and while the effects will NOT be immediate, after a half dozen years or so, I’d bet the “crime rate” drops as well.

  99. darkstarX says:

    @rpm773: Well one of the problems that they want to address that I find really interesting is the problem of disrespect for the law and for police. The fact is that most 18-21 year olds will drink, and the fact that it is illegal leads to people not trusting the authorities and not respecting the law. Fake IDs should be a much bigger deal than they are, but because 90% of them are used by adults (18 or over) to buy alcohol, its hard to crack down on the 10% that are used in fraud and other real crimes.

  100. nogas2speed says:

    18 Year Olds are considered legal adults. It seems strange to me that we consider them adults on the one hand, but not “adult” enough to partake in a legal substance.

    We waste too much money on trying to enforce this dichotomy of “adultness.” If they are adults, let them be so, or stop calling them adults, until they are 21.

  101. wgrune says:

    @captadam:

    Agreed. They also have WAY to much influence and power over the people making the laws. It irks me that they have essential made it to where you cant (safely due to the limit of .08) have more then a couple of beers over the course of an evening and drive. I think the whole .08 thing is an epic failuire as there are a lot of people who are unsafe to drive well below a BAC of .08. On the other hand, there are also a lot of people who are fully capable of driving safely well above .08. MADD will keep pushing and eventually we will have a “zero tolerance” drinking and driving law. I should probably add that I am not condoning people who drive drunk, I just thing our current drinking related laws are a joke and people should be responsible for themselves.

  102. wgrune says:

    @wgrune:

    Oh, and don’t get me started on those MADD endorsed “sobriety checkpoints”. Talk about watching your civil liberties float out the window…

  103. maevro says:

    I had a lot of adolescent clients who loved the rush of not getting caught, being able to be the one who can use his fake ID, or steal the alcohol from his parents. Its just like the ritual of any other drug.

    If you change the age, you are going to eliminate people doing this to a degree, but you will still have your 10 – 17 year olds who cannot have it legally and will still binge.

    Nothing is perfect. If you are going to keep alcohol legal then lower the age.

    I never drank, I went straight to drugs anyway.

  104. strife1012 says:

    I drank more before I was 21, then after 21 altogether.

  105. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    My parents let me drink at 18, I was pretty cool about it, even in school, but somewhere around 23 I got a serious job, bills, appartment, etc. Now I drink to stop the pain. Lower the age limit on drinking and raise the age limit on when you become an adult to like 30 so I can move back in and have my bills paid and stuff.

  106. quagmire0 says:

    Is the 21 rule silly? Yes. Will dropping the legal drinking age cut down on binge drinking? No. Just like legalizing marijuana will not cut down on pot use. All dropping the legal drinking age will do is increase the number of 18-20 year olds at bars.

    I think the binge drinking starts in high school quite frankly. This is the day and age of parents throwing parties for their high school kids, complete with alcohol. I think the colleges are gung ho to make 18 the legal age, because in their mind it might take more of the drinking off campus and outside of their legal realm.

  107. ShabazOSU says:

    I applaud you Ms. Marco for putting The Ohio State University.

    @Eels:
    First off, which college was it did you say you attended? Moreover, why do you have resentment towards Ohio State? I can only assume that you are either jealous or that you went to Michigan.
    You should probably get your facts straight before you start posting erroneous comments…
    The president of The Ohio State University is named Dr. Gee, and Ohio State was not on Princeton Review’s list of party schools (sorry to burst your bubble!), but Ohio University is, so you are about an hour and a half off in the wrong direction. Also, if you really did know anything about Ohio State or college in general, you would have known that the weekends start on Thursday, not Friday. And yes, the name of that game is ‘stupid beanbag game.’ Good guess!!!

  108. katylostherart says:

    18 is adult. if you can vote, join the army, get arrested and tried as an adult, lose your parents’ insurance benefits, get married without permission, be considered old enough for statutory rape, etc., you should be able to drink.

    america is idiotic for not following the rest of the world on this. teenagers will still drink, highschoolers already do drink. so do those even younger. i’m sure the idea of rebellion is some of the draw but kids now drink illegally from like age 14 up on a regular basis. 21 doesn’t stop them, and for college kids it probably does encourage binge drinking since three years of a standard enrollment is supposedly spent sober. yeah right.

    legalize marijuana too while you’re at it. it’s probably better for you than alcohol and you can’t smoke yourself to death in one session.

  109. quagmire0 says:

    Also, I’m one of those people that didn’t really drink until college. I’d say that I drank MORE the longer I was in college. Freshman year, I was mostly just drinking on the weekend. By Senior year we were celebrating Wednesday Night as ‘Prince Drinking Night’.

  110. katylostherart says:

    @wgrune: i recently read something that said talking on a cell phone was more dangerous than driving after a drink or two (not obliterated drunk) someone with a beer or two in them apparently was still paying more attention to the road than some jerk on his phone. how sad is that?

  111. KenManiac says:

    this is america, you’re not free unless what you want to do is prohibited! prohibition is freedom!

    speaking of which, aren’t you all as glad as i am that the ‘grand experiment’ of banning alcohol all together worked so well?

    and that the ‘war on drugs’ made them so hard to get that nobody bothers anymore?

    yeah, me too.

  112. Eryk says:

    Real tough question…

    So right now, you can serve your country, carry a gun, and vote once you are 18. But you can’t have a drink. Seems totally wrong.

    At the same time, at the age of 18, I was hardly responsible to be drinking, and its because of this law that probably kept me from doing it too often. At 21, I wasn’t too much better off, but I think there’s some responsibility to be learned after you are out of high school for a few years.

    And the thought of a bunch of high schoolers being at the local bar acting like inexperienced drinkers and falling all over the place not tipping the local staff doesn’t exactly bring me warm fuzzies.

  113. Geekybiker says:

    Dumb. You can vote and die for your country at 18, but not drink until 21? I’d rather see a drinking age of 16 and a driving age of 18.

  114. bigbadbyte says:

    I’m say the old you can die for your country but not drink to it. It seems pretty ridiculous and I know a lot of people who cut down on their drinking once the thrill of the illegality of it washed away. I also know very few people who matured significantly between the ages of 18 and 21.

  115. picardia says:

    ITA with the consensus: If you’re old enough to vote, drive, have sex, get married and/or go to war (though hopefully not all in the same day), you’re old enough to buy a six-pack of beer. It’s asinine to pretend otherwise.

    I am sympathetic to the need to cut down on teenage drinking and driving, which fueled the higher drinking age, but wouldn’t it make more sense to have a higher driving age instead?

  116. See, I had this thing called parents, whom I respected and trusted, so when they told me that drinking too much alcohol was a bad idea I believed them and I knew that if I drank or smoked or got high they’d not only be severely disappointed but they would probably rat me out to the cops and have me arrested, just to teach me a lesson.

    So no, I don’t think the age limit causes kids to drink.

  117. TornadoRex says:

    I, like many people here, drank much less once I turned 21. For me it had very little if nothing to do with maturity. I was out of the situation of, “Omg Bob has booze! I might not get to drink again for another week or two if I don’t go have some!” After it was more like, “Meh I don’t feel like drinking tonight. I can always go out tomorrow if I feel like it.”

    As for the whole “kids are going to drink younger if we lower the drinking age” argument. Bottom line is kids are going to find a way to drink if they want to drink. Whether it be stealing Mom and Dad’s booze or paying someone’s older sibling $20 to go pick it up for you. It’s really not that hard to get booze if you want it. Sure it may make it slightly easier if it’s lowered, but I don’t really think it’ll cause a significant difference in who drinks when they’re 16ish.

  118. HFC says:

    Because so many people overdrink before their 21, we should lower the drinking age? That’s ridiculous. Lower it to 18 and even more kids under 18 will be drinking than they do now. The fact that several people have commented that their drinking subsided or stopped after they turned 21 proves that they only drank because they weren’t allowed to. Should we really shift that age range down into high school and younger?

  119. BigFoot_Pete says:

    It’s a matter of supply and demand, I would say. 18 year olds still want to drink, but because they don’t have normalized access to the alcohol, they drink to excess when they can get access and do drink. This is the cycle of binge drinking.

    If alcohol was available legally, there would be less incentive to binge every time they come into contact with it, thereby curbing the problem.

  120. Dan Savage has a really interesting solution to this: drinking licenses. They can either have a drinking license OR a driver’s license, but not both, and the drinking license can only be used in bars, clubs, pubs, etc, and NOT liquor stores, so they can’t by a keg for their unlicensed friends.

    I think it should be lowered, because if McCain gets in, we’re one step closer to a draft, and kids who can get drafted ought to be allowed to drink.

  121. katylostherart says:

    @Eryk: what makes you think they’ll be drinking at your bar? i’ve found that the same douchebags that act like idiots in public before drinking age tend to act the same way at 21 and up. the same people that prefer to drink at home, with friends, at house parties etc, tend to also keep doing that. sure, there will probably be more kids trying out the bar scene. but every bar isn’t the same and the crowd won’t change all that much. i don’t go to loads of bars because they’re not my scene and i’m sure you don’t either. teenagers are still people with their own personalities, they’ll tend to congregate in their “own” space like always.

  122. takotchi says:

    Just get rid of the age limit altogether. It’s silly anyway; if somebody wants to drink, they’ll do it, at any age. If it wasn’t such a forbidden fruit, it wouldn’t be so interesting. But try telling that to neo-prohibitionist groups like MADD…

  123. katieoh says:

    i say lower the age to 18. however, dui’s mean you lose your license for [x] years. maybe 3, maybe 5. getting in an accident because you were drunk? 10 years without a license. killing someone in a drunk driving accident? a needle in your arm.

    you have to make the population scared enough of the consequences that people won’t take the risk of driving drunk. this slap-on-the-wrist “taking points off” shit is ridiculous.

  124. ninjablade55 says:

    I have personally seen 18-20 year old chug bottles of hard liquor before going into a club or concert or out with friends. This puts them in danger of alcohol poisoning ext. If the drinking age were to be lowered to 18 students at universities around the country would be able drink at these venues instead chugging massive amounts of liquor in a short amount of time.

    Also if people who are aged 18-20 are considered adults and can consent to certain things, enter legally binding contracts, vote, drive, than why not let them drink its what the insurance companies do when someone turns 25, the rates get lower because someones statistics say they are better drivers. Well anyone can make a statistic more favorable to their cause. So it is unfair and unjust and the drinking age should be up for discussion.

  125. katylostherart says:

    @HFC: they already DO drink. when i was in hs a good chuck of my class was on something. they were also smoking. legal age to purchase cigs: 18. this isn’t going to make 9 year olds binge drink just because highschoolers do no. europe pretty much proves this. if a kid is so damaged that they ARE drinking in elementary/middle school, the problem isn’t with the law it’s with the bad parenting and probably abusive environment.

  126. katylostherart says:

    chunk*

  127. Mykro says:

    One point I’m suprised hasn’t came up yet is… Instead of lowering the legal age to 18, why don’t they give kids with a valid college ID the right to buy alcohol. Problem solved. More kids will want to go to college, but once they actually get there and drink, its really not all its hyped up to be… and they’re in college, so maybe our country will be slightly smarter. We’re almost to a point of Idiocracy (the movie)! Anyone oppose?

  128. xphilter says:

    I don’t drink, and I doubt lowering the drinking age will change anyone’s habits, but 21 is such an arbitrary number. I wish they would just lower the drinking age and increase penalties for public drunkenness and drunk driving (it should be so expensive no one would do it, forget prison–$2000 per offense would be good)

  129. HFC says:

    @katylostherart: Thanks for pointing out that some idiots in HS already drink. I guess that’s why I said, “Lower it to 18 and even more kids under 18 will be drinking than they do now.”

    Europe works because they don’t have the same mentality that the US has. They still have teens drinking and some adults still over-indulge but they don’t have the beer companies shoving their “You have to drink to have fun!” ads down their throats all the time, so their numbers aren’t anywhere close to the US.

  130. DarkKnightShyamalan says:

    Well, tricky situation here. I absolutely agree with the premise that the current law encourages collegiate binge drinking among younger students. (It sure encouraged me… going to a bar and having a beer or two wasn’t an option the first three years of college, but getting loaded with friends in a dorm room with questionably purchased alcohol was.)

    On the other hand — if the drinking age moves to 18, then we have to switch our fears to the younger crowd. Instead of a 21-year old buying booze for a bunch of college kids, you’ll have 18-year olds buying it for a bunch of high school kids. And 18-year olds are not hard to find in high school, since, you know, a lot of them go there.

  131. dlab says:

    Of course yes, haven’t you been to college?

    In all seriousness, I grew up in Puerto Rico where the drinking age is 18 and never heard about kids dying from alcohol poisoning until I moved to the United States.

  132. dopplerd says:

    I would have no problem with lowering or removing the drinking age as long as the penalty for drinking & driving was increased substantially. As long as you don’t kill someone and it is a first offense there is the little penalty under current laws.

    I was in Sweden and they have a very low rate of drink driving. The limit is .02% and anything over .10% (the starting point for intoxicated in the US) is punishable with up to two years in prison. Basically if you get caught the hammer of the law hits you hard and fast. Increase the tangible risk of serious fines and jail time and the problem of drinking to much will be confined to puke stains on the couch not a bunch of dead people.

  133. james says:

    I think if you remove the taboo you remove much of the appeal. I have lived in countries with no drinking age, others where it 18 and here where it is of course 21. I think when there is no drinking age, people actually drink the least. Yes we went out at 13 yo, but rarely drank very much and never got into much of any trouble. After all you still need to deal with your parents when you get home. By 18 there was drinking but little appeal to overindulge. In the US, kids are told no you can’t drink until you turn 18 or go to college and then go crazy to see what they’ve been missing.

    As for the drunk driving issue, I think removing the drinking age would definitely reduce it, but what we really need is a system that realizes college students are drinking and does its best to ensure their safety. Like safe sex and condoms, if we don’t acknowledge the issue then it doesn’t stop and saying no fuels the fire.

  134. wgrune says:

    @katylostherart:

    If I remember correctly some studies put the “driving while on a cell phone” BAC equivalent at .15, or nearly twice the legal limit. Why isn’t MADD going after all the people who cause accidents while on cell phones or similarly distracted. My guess is those situations cause far more deaths every year then drinking.

  135. NotAppealing says:

    @shorty63136: My parents did the same thing, with a “Don’t be stupid” thrown in for good measure.

  136. Well now…I’m old enough to remember the 18-year drinking age. When I went to college, I did a lot of drinking, pot, LSD, mushrooms…well, it was the 1970s, after all. All of that was done on campus, in the safe arms of Drew University. Should the law be changed? Part of me says that if you’re an adult at 18, you should be able to drink. The other part of me says “Are you out of your fracking mind?”

    Actually, I would support this if drunk driving laws were revised and provided real deterrence. As they are now, (in some areas)you pretty much get a lesser sentence if you kill someone with your car if you’re drunk. You were, after all, not responsible–the alcohol was.

  137. totoro says:

    You can fight wars and kill people, drive cars or have a credit card, serve jail time or own guns, have abotions but can’t drink. Leave that to the ‘adults’. How does that work? WWJD? (kidding)

  138. crescentia says:

    I think that if you can die for your country you should be able to legally drink.

  139. ILoveVermont says:

    Let’s see, if the reasoning to lower the drinking age to 18 is because it’ll remove the “forbidden” aspect of it, thus making it less appealing to young’uns, then why not remove barriers to psychotic and addictive illegal drugs? Fewer young’uns would abuse them, right?

    Why limit ourselves to alcohol or drugs? Why not remove the age restrictions of statutory rape? In Vermont, any sexual relations (consensual or not) with someone under the age of 16 is automatically rape. Yet, you can probably count thousands of such encounters each year in Vermont that go underground (and thus unknown and unpunished). So, if we removed the age restriction so it was legal at any age, it would be less appealing to the young’uns, and there’d be less of it? (Just think of all the child molesters that we wouldn’t have to prosecute, jail, and have on probation! – this is all tongue-in-cheek, of course.)

    If that’s not stupid reasoning, then I’m going to go have a drink.

  140. mcjake says:

    I’m still not sure if the 21 age limit actually encourages binge drinking though. Seems to me, that when you are between the ages of 18 to 21 you are just a complete dumb ass, and by the time you are 21 you area a little mature, and a little more of a seasoned drinker that doesnt need to chug vodka mixed with Nyquel in a dorm room.

  141. katylostherart says:

    @HFC: um have you ever SEEN european ads for alcohol? they’re hilarious. they absolutely sell alcohol with the mentality that you have to have it to have fun. or that having it will make you more fun. or that having it will make your friends more fun. or that having it will let you have loads of sex. american beer/liquor ads are way LESS entertaining and sexualized than european ones.

    and i read exactly what you said – “more kids under 18 will be drinking than they do now.” i think that’s pretty doubtful. most kids drink due to a few reasons, boredom, curiosity, peer pressure, etc. lowering a drinking age won’t make kids that don’t want to drink, drink. keeping it at 21 just makes kids that already do want to drink, get it illegally. i had alcohol readily available constantly in my household in hs, i didn’t drink. i know other kids that would clean bring screwdrivers and mimosas to school for breakfast and do things like refill the vodka from their parents liquor cabinets with water.

    it’s the basic rule for most human behavior people will find a way to do what they want to do. this is the same problem with drugs, it’s not the supply that’s the problem, it’s the demand. you can burn every poppy in the world and people will just find some other way to get fucked up.

    you’re almost saying teenagers have no personal responsibility and that parents have no responsibility to take care of and teach their children about things like alcohol. kids that want to will, kids that don’t won’t. it’s really that simple.

  142. Veeber says:

    @temporaryerror: But the question is why did you binge before 21? Is it “ooo it’s illegal so I should do it” or it was just the sudden lack of supervision. If it’s lowered to 18 wouldn’t that lack of supervision still exist? And if we lower to 18 will more kids just binge at 15?

  143. Gopher bond says:

    I can only speak from personal experience but when I started drinking around 17 to when I was 21 was really the only period in which I engaged in binge drinking. Since obtaining alcohol was a pain in the ass, I’d always get whiskey or vodka and drink it fast to make sure I got drunk. Or if there were keg parties, I’d drink as much beer as possible to ensure I got my fill.

    After I turned 21, since buying alcohol became legal, I switched almost entirely to beer and slow even drinking.

    After I turned 21 there was no more shotgunning, beer bongs, or drinking games.

  144. AD8BC says:

    Let me preface this to say that I am 32 years old, I drank the occasional beer before I was 21, and I have been smashed maybe 3 times since I turned 21. I don’t like being drunk. I don’t know what the big thrill is.

    I drink occasionally, usually maybe 3 or 4 drinks in a month, usually when I get bumped up to first class or when I am traveling on business and the company is buying (not directly, but they give me a nice per-diem for meals).

    Good points have been made above, about perhaps at 16 allowing parents to teach responsible drinking habits before the teens go off to college to learn on their own. I have two concerns about these theories, #1 being that many parents aren’t responsible in their own right, and #2, should we be teaching drinking habits or good common sense?

    I think this whole thing is about liability. These schools want to reduce their liability for having to restrict underage drinking on campus, mainly because they probably frequently get sued when some kid drinks on campus and then drives, or some kid gets alcohol poisoning and dies in the dorm room.

    As much as I would like to say that I knew a lot of people in college that were mature enough to drink, I really didn’t know too many that knew when to quit. It is very hard to predict if earlier drinking would prevent this.

    I think we should limit the liability to colleges and universities (i.e. treating dormatories as rental apartments and placing liability soley on the occupant). But lowering the drinking age may cause more problems than it solves. Then it would be very hard to close that box if it does.

    Instead, lets teach the kids that they really aren’t missing much. I mean really, drinking to excess is nothing more than a waste of money and vomit. The occasional beer after mowing the lawn or glass of wine with dinner or margarita at the Mexican restaurant is OK. Teach by example.

  145. johnj21 says:

    Do anti-homicide laws ENCOURAGE homicides? A new study suggests it might….

    Give me a break… blaming law breaking on the law?

  146. AD8BC says:

    @wgrune: No, it’s because MADD has focused on the drinking. I’m sure there are other organizations organized for the express purpose of banning cellphone use while driving.

    You gotta pick your battles, man.

  147. missi1226 says:

    One thing I would have to disagree with is the idea that the underage drinkers binge because they feel that they have to, since alcohol is difficult to get. I live in a college town, enjoy going to the bars on the weekends, and I can tell you that a significant portion of the patrons are underage (I am a grad student, and always run into my students). There are bars that are well known to be “freshman bars” because that’s where they all go to drink.

    Alot of the students I interact with are excited about the age being dropped because “Now I can get trashed and it will be legal”. It frustrates me to here them say that, but several already have DUIs and still have a license. I feel that if the punishments were far stricter for irresponsible people, maybe there would not be such a large opposition to the age change.

  148. katylostherart says:

    @AD8BC: ban alcohol on campus. it’s already usually banned on public school property. keeps the teachers from drinking too.

  149. Gopher bond says:

    @AD8BC: You made good points but you didn’t explain how lowering the drinking age would “cause more problems” as you said. All of the issues you brought up exist under the current drinking age.

    I’ve always asked myself “How many underage adults that want to drink, refrain from doing so because of the law?”

    If you think the answer to that is very few, then lowering the drinking age makes sense. If you think the answer to that is a large majority, you’re ignorant.

  150. Gopher bond says:

    @katylostherart: Alcohol was banned on my campus and I got shit-faced every weekend. It doesn’t do a damn thing.

  151. seamer says:

    People who think 21 is too high is naive, and probably under 21 themselves.

    Other nations have 18 as the drinking age. You know what? Binge drinking happens there too. It’s not an age barrier, but a mentality issue.

    The problem lies between idiot’s ears – I can swallow, therefore I must get as drunk as possible!

  152. katylostherart says:

    @testsicles: oh i didn’t mean it as a way to curb drinking, i mean it to release the school from liability. “we told you not to but you did anyway” gets a lot of people off the hook.

  153. Gopher bond says:

    @katylostherart: yeah, OK, but then you get into a situation where the school must take an ACTIVE stance in banning alcohol to prevent being sued because they were negligent in the banishment of alcohol. Then you get back to screwing up a kids life just because he or she decided they’d like to have a few drinks in a dorm somewhere. Unfortunately, there is no way to release liability like that.

  154. cerbie says:

    OK, I know this is totally unexpected, but parents encourage binge drinking. Why aren’t they giving their kids alcohol? I don’t even remember when I had my first exposure (certainly a holiday dinner, though).

    My frequency of drinking skyrocketed when I turned 21, and hasn’t let up yet. About a six pack of [good] beer per month and a bottle of wine every two or three. See, now I don’t have rely on my father’s rather different preferences in beer. I’ve never been drunk, nor do I have any intention to try it out. I don’t like the loss of awareness I get from two beers in a row.

    Laura Dean-Mooney, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says she is alarmed by the initiative. The mother of a 17-year-old high-school senior, she says she wouldn’t want her child to go to a school whose presidents had signed the statement, saying it sent the message, “It’s OK to drink underage.”

    Huh. Should have told that to my parents, and their parents, and their parents, on up the tree. I don’t have a dry culture in my background that I know of (Irish Catholics, French Catholics, and a little bit of Iroquois).

  155. tawker says:

    One simply needs to look north of the 49th to see what a bad idea 21 is.

    In Canada next to every undergrad is legal. We have on campus pubs, we have the odd drink because it is a social thing but the thrill of “beating the man” is gone because it’s legal.

    Look at our accident stats – lower than the US on a statistically adjusted basis – we have absolutely none of our insurers pushing for a higher drinking age. They are pushing for a lower BAC limit which makes sense.

    Maybe if the US could follow the example of Canada it would have a lot less problems. I might even decide to go spend some money down there because my friends wouldn’t be treated like criminals for doing something so crazy as ordering a drink with dinner.

    Land of the free, home of the MADD.

  156. snoop-blog says:

    Well the simple fact that preteens and teens are sneaking around drinking (me personally would sneak out and drink at the age of 12) to act as though anyone actually waited to drink until they were 21 is crazy.

    If you are old enough to die for this country, and lets face it, Russia and Iran scare the hell out of me, you should be old enough to drink a damn beer.

    and btw- Russia and Iran both think we are weak and overburdened as it is, and they are at least right about the second part of it.

  157. SabyneWired says:

    @PinkBox: I rarely did, and when I did it was under close supervision. My parents would let me sip wine or have a little bit of their egg nog and Kahlua, but nothing more than that. And even now, at 26, I really don’t drink that much. Once in a while, I’ll go out and drink, but I’ve never understood the draw of social drinking. Even in high school when my peers talked about the last party they all got “OMG, soooooo drunk!” at, I just shook my head.

    On changing the age limit, I honestly don’t see any good or bad to doing so. Maybe if parents were actually parents and stepped up and taught their children how to be responsible, there wouldn’t be as many alcohol-related problems.

  158. snowygal18 says:

    @plural_of_moose:

    I like your ideas. And I have to say: the whole point of drinking before going out in college while underage is to get wasted enough that it’ll last the 4 hours you’re out on the town. I don’t drink, but many of my dormmates do, and their goal is to get drunk enough that it’ll just keep them through the night. So they chug swill. Not good.

  159. snowygal18 says:

    @ILoveVermont: You’re missing the point. I don’t choose not to do those things because they’re illegal; I choose not to do them because I believe they’re harmful to myself and to society. I do not believe that having a glass of wine over dinner is harmful to myself or society. I think we should have stronger drunk driving laws– as in, you lose your license for at least a month– and a lower drinking age.

    College students binge drink because they don’t know where their next drink is coming from. If you aren’t sure when you’ll get your next fifth, you’ll make sure you “make the most” of the one you have.

    I don’t drink, but I see it around me constantly. It’s not that we drink because it’s illegal and taboo, but that is why college students binge drink.

    I do think that colleges should require an alcohol education class, even for students who will never drink. Most college students will deal with a passed out or vomiting friend (or parent/sibling/cousin) sometime in their life. Info on when to call 911– and the ability for that call not to result in ticketing and arrest– would benefit teens and young adults far more than punishment.

  160. SinisterMatt says:

    @cjones27:

    Right on!! The culture encourages getting hammered.

    If I recall correctly, and someone correct me if I am wrong, one reason that corroborated the drinking age being21 instead of 18 is because of some kind of physiological issue– i.e., you’re better able to handle it at 21 or something. Biology was a while ago, so I may be wrong about that.

    And for those who advocate having parents supervise parties where alcohol is present if the legal age was dropped, do you honestly think that that is going to happen? It doesn’t happen now, even where there is no alcohol present. (Moooooommmm….. you’re embarassing me).

    Cheers!

  161. anatak says:

    I think you reconsider 21, but what is the right number? 16? 18? 20? If the research has it right, then it’s 18.

    Kinda messed up that you can vote at 18, buy tobacco at 18, but not alcohol.

  162. katylostherart says:

    @testsicles: back to the personal responsibility thing: you drink where you’re told you’re not allowed, why is that anyone else’s fault?

    seriously when did we get so stupid that we’ve decided releasing people from the consequences of their actions is a good idea?

    i drink. mostly i have a couple beers, couple glasses of wine but sometimes i like to get plastered and be giddy and silly for a good 6+ hours. i don’t drive, i don’t fight, i don’t destroy public property, i don’t destroy personal property, i don’t pee everywhere, i don’t sleep with everyone that hits on me, i don’t hit on your boyfriend or your girlfriend. even when i’ve drank so much i’ve barfed i stumble my way to a toilet or sink or edge of lawn. i’ve cleaned up my mess and even tend to clean up whole houses (i don’t know why) all while needing to hug the wall. although i can’t really claim to be graceful before the alcohol.

    if you cannot handle your drink, don’t drink. if you still want to drink, accept that you will pay for your actions. if your child drinks underage, accept that it’s his fault and YOUR fault for failing to teach them about responsibility and consequences be that age 18 or 21. if you have a preteen who is drinking you have bigger problems on your hands then the drinking age.

    most 21 year olds aren’t drinking on campus anyway, they’re drinking at bars, clubs and their own apartments which they’ve gotten with people they met earlier in their college careers. the 20 and younger crowd will still drink on campus, keeping the age at 21 does nothing.

  163. SinisterMatt says:

    @Mykro:

    That’s a valid point, but if you did that, I think you would have to find a way to make the ID more counterfeit proof. Some college IDs that I have seen you could easily make a copy of it merely by scanning it and putting it on the right medium.

    Cheers!

  164. I used to be that binge-drinking under-ager. I had my fake ID to buy copious amounts of alcohol for myself and other under-agers. I turned 21, realized I was the one that would go to jail when the cops showed up to my 19- and 20-year old friends drunk asses…and pretty much stopped drinking. I still bought for my friends, but didn’t have the crazy parties we had before.

    We did stupid shit when we drank and because we couldn’t just have a drink or two whenever, we drank insane amounts when we could get away with it. I could smoke, vote, buy porn, or die for my country in the military when I turned 18…why not drink? Either 18 or 21 needs to be the legal age…with it, the benefits/responsibilities.

    (A quick Wiki search shows that only a small percentage of countries in the world have a drinking age of over 18.)

  165. sean77 says:

    @Hawk07:

    I guess the whole Lacrosse incident didn’t teach them anything.

    You mean the incident where the girl lied, the lacrosse team was vindicated and the District Attorney was convicted of criminal contempt and disbarred?

  166. Ass_Cobra says:

    @HurtsSoGood:

    Ruthless enforcement of .08 BAC doesn’t have anything to do with underage drinking as the legal limit for anyone under 21 in any jurisdiction is .00. In fact I think we should have .00 BAC for anyone driving, but I’d imagine that the restaurant and liquor industries would have something to say about that. The beer drinkinest country on the planet (Czech Republic) has a zero tolerance policy and it keeps their highways relatively carnage free…at least as it relates to drunk drivers.

  167. FLConsumer says:

    I was raised with free & ready access to alcohol in my house. By all accounts, my parents had THE party house in the neighborhood, if not one of THE top places in town. The house was actually built for entertaining, complete with full bar, ice machine, real restaurant beer-tap system with multiple kegs. In the summer months, parties happened weekly around the pool, people would even arrive by boat.

    The rule always was no drinking alone, but otherwise anything went. I was taught to enjoy alcohol, yet do so responsibly. To date I still have never been drunk, never had a hangover.

    I used to hear the other high school kids talk about WANTING to go out and get drunk and wonder what the hell was wrong with them. Because alcohol was always around, I never saw the strong allure of downing copious amounts of the stuff. If anything, I saw it as a waste of money.

    Ironically, despite the large amounts of alcohol available to me as a child and even the decent collection I keep at my home’s own wet bar, I tend to drink less than most of my friends.

    I say 18′s too high for a drinking age. 12 sounds more reasonable to me for the light stuff, maybe 14-16 for the heavier stuff. Of course, this means parents would have to become responsible for their spawn. But should we really be legislating what is the parents’ responsibility?

  168. FLConsumer says:

    Add that to the list — penalties for drunk driving need to be much more severe than they currently are in the US. I’m all for mandatory jail sentences of a year or more just for DUI. Make it so severe that people actually THINK about it before they pick up the first glass.

  169. Overheal says:

    I started drinking when I was 17, legal in Ireland at 18 (and enjoyed it a bunch) but when I was in the states this year and I turned 21 I spent my birthday at the waterpark; and had one commemorative beer. 2 months later I really have yet to genuinely buy any alcohol.

    Also the longer a teen hasn’t just been learning how to drive their car to the liquor store; the better.

  170. Eryk says:

    @katylostherart: While normally I’d say that’s the case, I think there’s a certain “right of passage” that teens would want to involve themselves in, and visit the bars, if only because they couldn’t before. That being said, I said it more in jest, cause you’re right – I hardly visit the bars anymore.

    During my barslumming days though, I wouldn’t have enjoyed having highschoolers running around in there. I say that mainly because I know if I were allowed in bars at 18, the older people wouldn’t have wanted me around either. :)

    Either way, I lean towards yes, drinking age should be lowered to 18 – they are gonna do it anyways, why not make it legal?

  171. Kali Mama says:

    @anatak: You can get married and have kids at 18. But you can’t toast with champaign.

    @quagmire0: “Just like legalizing marijuana will not cut down on pot use”

    As a Dutch person I’ll tell you, yes it does.

  172. S-the-K says:

    Based on what I’ve read, I agree with the opinion that university officials are tired of trying stop underage drinking and want to pass the responsibility to high schools.

    Like former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders once opined about illegal drugs, the way you reduce the underage drinking problem is to lower the legal drinking age until it’s no longer a problem.

    After we lower the legal drinking age from 21 to 18, there will be stories about 16 year olds drinking. So we lower the age to 16. Then there will be stories about 14 year olds, 12 year olds, kindergardeners drinking. Down and down the age limit goes.

  173. DoctorMD says:

    Mothers Against Drunk Driving should never be quoted or given any airtime. A group blinded by emotion can never be an authority or source of info.

    The first 2 years of drinking (at any age) exhibit the most risky behavior. What better time than when your parents can actually have some control and give guidance. It should be Alcohol at 16 and driving at 18. It also would take away the cool and forbidden factors. Mothers can actually take some responsibility oh wait they don’t want to do that.

  174. xthexlanternx says:

    I remember in college it was pretty much a given that anyone under 21 who went out on the weekends had to “pre-game” first. Since you couldn’t get alcohol at the bars and you couldn’t always count on finding a party where the booze was free and that you knew someone to get in, people did this “pre-game” beforehand. What it amounts to is basically we would get our over 21 friends to buy us booze on like Wednesday or Thursday night, then on Friday and Saturday before we left the dorm room, we would get so shit faced drunk that we would be okay for the whole evening. Pretty much everyone I know in college has had at least a few times where the pre-game was so much that they didn’t even end up going out once in awhile. Instead of cramming kids into little dorm rooms or shady off campus residences with random people they meet, they should lower the drinking age to 18 so that people can have social events with proper supervision at bars and event halls. It is a hell of a lot less likely for you to get alcohol poisoning or raped at a bar than it is at some creepy house where you don’t know anyone or some fraternity party.

    There would be some culture shock. American culture is really over the top and there would be some blowback. If you give it a few years though, it would stop being so much of an issue. It would go from being “Wow I can drink at 18 now lets go get hammered!” to just being something normal. The Europeans don’t have the same kind of problem with young people binge drinking (although we are different cultures and social norms).

    There is a bunch of other reasons to, like being 18 to serve in armed services, being 18 to get porn/smokes/etc.

    The bottom line should be this:

    If MADD Wants to get all up in arms about this, they should look at the real problem and that is people being irresponsible. Drunk driving is a 100% preventable crime. I’ve done it before but one morning I woke up and said I would never do it again and I haven’t. Sure sometimes I wake somebody up to come get me or I spend $10 on cab, but I have never driven drunk since the day I said I was never going to again. I go to the bar probably 5-6 times a week and pretty much every single person there drives home drunk. They are just lazy and they don’t have any fear of the consequences. The problem isn’t the drinking age, its just people being irresponsible.

  175. Gopher bond says:

    @katylostherart: I completely agree with you. But I know that if a university or college campus advertises a campus as “alcohol-free” or has an outright ban on alcohol on campus but fails to implement any measures to adequately enforce and police those measures, it’s ripe for lawsuit. Some parent somewhere will choose to send their kids to that college, in part, because of that aspect. If their kid dies from drinking too much alcohol and it’s widely known that there are no major repercussions for drinking on campus and the ban is just lip service, then the university, despite personal responsibility issues, will likely be found negligent.

    Just like I can state here that I have an outright ban on the production and distribution of meth in my house, but if the police find a methlab in my basement, the declaration means very little.

  176. xthexlanternx says:

    @S-the-K:

    Just something quick cause I have to leave for work:
    I don’t know where you’re from, but in Ohio its pretty much normal for 14 year olds to drink. I can remember as soon as I started high school I started getting invited to parties with alcohol (and I started high school as kind of a nerd/loner). Probably the best thing that ever happened to me drinking wise was our friends dad said we could drink at his house when we were seniors in high school. We never left after drinking and always stayed the night. We could have others over (but they couldn’t drink) and he had no problems with us staying up all night doing whatever. That was the safest situation. Otherwise every Friday and Saturday after football/basketball games it was driving out to someone’s house in the country where their parents were away to get wasted and then everyone drive home. I’m not saying that it should be okay for those younger than 18 to drink (at least according to the law), but the sheer fact that its illegal does nothing but inconvenience those not of age (they have to find someone to buy for them) and forces them to drink in secluded, unsupervised locations.

    American is way too uptight about way too many things.

  177. xthexlanternx says:

    @quagmire0:
    Actually, countries with legal marijuana have lower drug use of all types. The US has the strictest drug laws and has the highest drug use across the board. In the Netherlands, weed is legal and less people have used it than in the US percentage wise.

  178. moto211 says:

    In my opinion, if you are old enough to die for your country, then you are old to drink a beer.

  179. Grive says:

    @Hate_Brian_Club: Unhealthy relationship with alcohol and sex, not just alcohol.

    I saw lower it. I’m sorry, but If I’m legally allowed to be trained to use military ordinance and kill people by the government, I should be allowed to have a beer.

    There is another good point: 18-21 is the most dangerous age for binge drinkers. And people of that age have no incentive to ask for help in case something goes wrong. Drank way too much? let’s make him vomit and sleep it off. Tell someone? are you crazy? we’re gonna get it so hard.

    I wonder, how many alcohol-related deaths of that subset would have been averted if the people had either gotten drunk in an observable place (say, a bar) or if their friends had taken them to a hospital?

  180. Angryrider says:

    Why not? But there should always be something done about binge drinking in our society…

  181. Atlantys says:

    21 is a stupid age requirement, and the US really needs to take a page from the rest of the world and lower the age to 18-19.
    Of course, they could also take a page from the rest of the world and not invade other countries for no reason, but that just sidetracks things.

  182. alstein says:

    Why not lower the drinking age to 18, but keep the underage drinking and driving laws (like the one they got Ty Lawson with) at 21? That’s a fair compromise.

  183. cloud-on-a-bike says:

    @ltlbbynthn: I’m just curious, what was so “weird” about those people that didn’t drink?

    I didn’t touch a drink until my 21st birthday party. Not sure if I am considered weird (I’m sure I am in the minority of the college populace though), but alcohol never interested me when I was under 21 (and yes, I was friends with people who could drink, people who weren’t legal to drink but did anyway, and I partied and hung out with people who drank and smoked). It still doesn’t interest me, and now I’m 22. I think since my birthday party I’ve maybe had 5 drinks total when I’ve gone out on a date or something else. I just never bought into the whole forbidden fruit thing or the whole getting wasted thing. I didn’t see how that could possibly be fun.

    And for the record, I never really had a discussion with my mom about drinking during high school or before I went to college. She raised me to be a respectful citizen, I guess.

    The media shoves the “glamour” of partying and drinking illegaly down our throats on a daily basis (see the movie coming out called “College”). It doesn’t matter if you lower the drinking age, people younger than it will see those images in the media regardless and want to be part of that. Leave it 21.

  184. dragonprism says:

    What’s the point in lowering the drinking age if kids will still drink and drive? What’s the point in lowering the drinking age if people still binge drink? Come on, now. Seriously.

    The kids going to college these days–my generation–know very little in the way of restraint and self pride. This band of college trying to force the drinking age back into public light is only trying to put a bandaid on a situation that they cannot control–poor ethics and morals in the individual.

    Guess what, Dartmouth? That stuff cannot be provided by your overpriced education. That’s the kind of stuff that’s taught in the home, by responsible adults.

    It’s not giving a child more responsibilty, but only pushing kids into the worst environment for any sort of addiction.

  185. varro says:

    @APFPilot: I’m another person whose drinking went way down after they turned 21 – it went from guzzling 8-12 beers for $3 at a fraternity party or apartment party to paying $1-2 for a beer at a bar – funny how you drink less when the alcohol is more expensive! (I turned 21 in 1991.)

    Where I lived in Chicago back then, the liquor store was just happy to see you if you removed the liquor after placing money on the counter, and not by threatening the clerk with a knife or gun.

    I think the drinking age should be 14 with guidance by a parent/guardian; 18 by one’s self. Better to have kids learning to drink by having a beer with Dad while watching the game or with mom while watching Sex and the City than having them throw open parties whenever someone can find or steal alcohol.

  186. cloud-on-a-bike says:

    @ShabazOSU: Listen, I know you have pride as an alumni and everything, but there was nothing erroneous about what eels posted, except for the Friday-Sunday thing. You’re correct, the drunk slags at OSU surface Thursday night, not Friday.

    Anyone who has gone to OSU has to admit that it is a notorious campus for getting wasted. There’s alcohol in the dorms, alcohol flooding fraternity row, and all the shady bars down High Street that don’t card. Obviously Holbrook thought drinking was enough of a problem since she was calling the freaking police on students on football Saturdays and they had all those (controversial) arrests a few years back. Hell, most of my Scholars group (which was housed in a “substance-free” dorm) got busted a few months into freshman year for getting drunk off their asses in the dorm and destryoing the bathrooms. We had to have a meeting about it where one girl incredulously asked “What? The drinking age is REALLY 21? I thought it was ok to drink if you had your parents’ permission!” (Seriously.)

    -OSU alumna who has never played cornhole

  187. cloryfreeborn says:

    I invite you all to come to Utah, where you can’t buy anything other than 3.2 at the grocery store. Everything else has to be purchased at the liquor store. Sure, it probably does a good job at keeping the good stuff out of the hands of minors, but my impression is that the adults here drink much, much harder simply because it’s harder to get. Well that and the number of ex-Mormons making up for all that lost time.

  188. mmmsoap says:

    @JeffDrake: That’s exactly why I oppose raising the driving age. Kids who were straight A students in high school suddenly discover that no one cares (or calls their mom) when they don’t go to class, and start sleeping through everything. It’s a normal part of the move to (sudden and enormous) freedom to flex your wings and see what you can do. I definitely think if drinking wasn’t as taboo (ie — you don’t have to pay a senior to get your booze for you) and/or you started doing it while you were still in your parents’ house, it wouldn’t be such a draw.

    On the same vein, my state periodically talks about raising the driving age to 18. I *definitely* do NOT want first time drivers to be behind the wheel when their parents are 1000 miles away. Kids get into enough accidents and make bad decisions, but at least the majority of them have the you-better-do-good-in-school-and-not-get-a-ticket-or-you-can’t-have-the-keys keeping them in line at home. By the time they’re in college, driving is routine, not sexy and adventurous, and not a big deal.

  189. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    Personally, I think they should lower the drinking age to 16 — and raise the driving age to 18. Let ‘em have a couple of years to get the really stupid drinking out of their system before we give ‘em the ability to drive.

  190. Jesse in Japan says:

    Do they have the same kinds of problems in countries where the drinking age actually is 18 or 16? How widespread a problem is binge drinking in, say, Germany or Italy?

  191. pallendo says:

    When alcohol is not forbidden, fewer kids will go of to college and “freak out”. Drinking wine with dinner was part of growing up in my family. When I was 8, I noticed that with certain dinners, my parents would have a glass or 2 of wine. So I asked for one. From then on, with certain dinners, I would be poured a small glass of wine as well. Not with every dinner, but when we would have steak, or nice pasta, a glass of wine would be part of the meal. I did not, as soon as I left my parents’ house, go crazy and go drinking. I never drank to get drunk. I learned moderation from my parents. I learned that you can have a drink to enhance the flavor of meals. I learned that alcohol was not a big forbidden elephant in the room.

  192. Gopher bond says:

    @cloud-on-a-bike: ” It doesn’t matter if you lower the drinking age, people younger than it will see those images in the media regardless and want to be part of that. Leave it 21.”

    So you admit young people will do it anyway because of peer pressure, curiosity, and advertising but yet would like to leave it illegal just to make sure a young immature person can make a mistake and fuck up their life even more with a nice fat police record. Nice. Dicks like you are the reason they invented alcohol.

  193. karmaghost says:

    I think something needs to be considered here, but I know that I personally started drinking A LOT less after I turned 21.

  194. pigbearpug says:

    @Hawk07: What did it do to support their guilt? Everyone remembered everything about that night. That example is just completely irrelevant.

  195. Onouris says:

    Its down to parents and the kid’s inability to have a spine and withstand peer pressure. The law saying 21 doesn’t encourage binge drinking, ours is 18 and we have plenty, in people over the age.

  196. cloud-on-a-bike says:

    @testsicles: Namecalling is kind of uncalled for, don’t you think? You’re the one who sounds like you are still very immature. It’s not my fault that someone who has a low maturity level makes a mistake and messes up their life. Why should I take responsibility? I was underage too until recently, but somehow I have managed not to break the law : Your argument pretty much does nothing except show what a troll you are.

  197. synergy says:

    This has been popping up all over my friend’s blogs and in various places where I read. I say, if you’re old enough to vote and old enough to die for your dountry, you’re old enough to drink. Plenty of countries do it successfully at younger ages. Pick a European country and odds are they have a lower age limit, if any, than the U.S. does. Or don’t go so far, just look to our neighbors to the north. Their age limit is 19. When I was in college people would drive up to Windsor to hit the gambling and drinking my freshmen year.

  198. Tallanvor says:

    The medical association in the UK wants the drinking age there raised to 21 to help curb binge drinking among young people there.

    I’m not saying that the drinking age should be 21, but I don’t think lowering it will stop binge drinking in the slightest.

  199. Wubbytoes says:

    The drinking age is grossly ineffective anyway. Every college freshman has a friend who hooks them up or knows a gas station or bar that won’t check ID. I think I did my heaviest drinking before I turned 21. When its not “bad” its not as much fun anymore.

  200. leftystrat says:

    Right you are.

    Just like guns are causing shootings and cars are causing accidents. It was only a matter of time til this came up…

    I always like it when a car `goes out of control’ and hits something. It’s almost as if the car became sentient and wrested control away from the driver.

  201. Brazell says:

    College is the absolutely best place to test your “drinking limits.”

  202. Brazell says:

    @Jesse in Japan: It’s been a long promulgated myth that binge drinking is not an issue in Europe. There was an article published in lieu of a NYT editorial about the drinking age back in MArch or September that mentioned that _every_ country in Europe other than Turkey has higher “binge drinking rates” than the United States amongst young people. Now, the actual numbers, I don’t know them off hand or how valid the study was, but I think that generally, the point was that the idea that “America’s taboo aversion to drinking causes excessive binge drinking,” is largely untrue.

  203. jackspat2 says:

    LOWER IT! I believe a drinking of age of 21 creates more accidents and deaths than 18 does!

  204. n301dp says:

    I never seemed to worry about drinking laws…going to a university two hours from Canada and traveling to places with ridiculously low drinking ages.

    If anything, there should be a law against anyone drinking awful beer!

  205. Gopher bond says:

    @cloud-on-a-bike: still a dick.

  206. ottawa_guy says:

    I have to agree with lowering the US drinking age. Alot of the border states coming into Canada, especially into Quebec, where it’s an 18 legal age is packed.

    Hell I used to go to Quebec when I was 18 (Ontario law says 19 to smoke and drink) and have a bit of fun…

    When I turned 19 and I am able to drink legally you enjoy it more, but you don’t get drunk more often. It’s more of a social thing, having a drink or two while enjoying the company of your friends, rather than downing a 40 of hard liquor in half an hour.

    I guess I just see 19 as just the right age, since you weed out the 18 year olds that are stupid and don’t know control.

  207. Mykro says:

    @SinisterMatt: Agreed. But I think it would be a smarter choice to spend a little money and come up with better IDs than to completely lower the drinking age.. That just gives EVERY KID a chance to test thier waters when they hit the age.

    If you have to have a college ID and a state ID to buy alcohol at a younger age, it would be considered more of a privilege for them and not just any kid could go out and do it. I know if I liked to drink and I was a 18 year old, I’d want to go to college to be able to drink legally, rather than take the risks.

    They should also limit to how much alcohol you can buy under 21, so college freshman can’t buy enough to get thier high school buddies smashed.

    I grew up with raging alcoholic parents. They’re both still alcoholics, but neither is that bad anymore. Growing up around them, seeing what it does to you to get retardedly smashed… just not what I could consider a good time. It also helps that I’ve seen the shame people have the next day after they’ve binged and done something really stupid. (ie: urinating on [yourself, in the fridge, on the couch, in the candy dish, your buddy's pocket], had a conversation with the television, came out of the closet, got naked in front of 20+ people, etc, etc, etc)

    My “cool” older (14) cousin made me drink a beer when I was 9 or so because it was the coolest thing ever… Try grossest thing ever. Haven’t done it since.. I’m almost 24 and I just took my first sip of alcohol a couple weeks ago. I took a sip of Hurricane & Mountain Dew.. and boy did it taste good. BUT! I couldn’t drink much because I wouldn’t want to get drunk and feel like an ass.

  208. @JeffDrake: “If the drinking laws were changed to 16, parents could teach their kids about drinking. “

    (This may be mentioned downthread, but …)

    Most states have an exception that allows underage children to drink in their parent’s home with parental supervision. (NOT for the parents to have OTHER kids drink in their home!)

    My parents raised us under this exception — glass of wine with dinner at holidays and special occasions, starting with two fingers of wine at about 14 and graduating slowly to a full glass.

    When I went to college drinking wasn’t that exciting or sexy, and EVERYTHING THEY DRANK TASTED AWFUL, since I’d been raised on real grown-up liquor. ;)

  209. blork says:

    A 20 year old is old enough to have been in the army for several years already. They’re old enough to have voted in several elections. They can legally drive and fly airplanes. They can get married and have children without requiring parental approval.

    But they’re not “old enough” to have a glass of wine with dinner, or to have a beer with Dad while watching the Superbowl.

    That is not just stupid or hypocritical; it’s insane.

    BTW, I live in Montreal, where the legal drinking age is 18. We’re close to the U.S. border, so a lot of college-age kids from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and upstate New York are in town here every weekend, checking out the bars. Downtown Montreal can get really rowdy on a Saturday night, but when you see a bunch of really drunk 18-21 year olds, 80% of the time they’re the Americans in town for a binge.

    That’s not to say Canadians don’t binge too. But it’s less of a big deal to go drinking if it’s been legal since you were 18. But for the Americans it’s forbidden fruit so they go nuts.

  210. Stupid_Losers says:

    I would consider supporting a lower drinking age if perhaps they upped the tax on alcohol. I don’t however believe that a lower drinking age would discourage binge drinking, that line of reasoning is absolutely ridiculous. If anyone is planning on getting totally wasted for whatever reason its going to happen whether the drinking age is 21 or 15.

  211. Madjia says:

    @KaliMama (Ganesha is my Om boy):
    As another Dutch person I can totally agree with you. Smoking pot is considered nothing special. Some people do it, most don’t. If you run into any really high people in Amsterdam they’re usually tourists.

    The drinking age is 16 here, 18 for hard liquor. The age you can start getting your driver’s license is 18. A lot of people get to deal with alcohol responsibly because it’s not forbidden. Yeah there are some stupid kids binging, but that happens when it’s illegal too apparantly.

    Most kids here get their partying out before they turn 18 and get to drive. Plus some very strict drunk driving laws and punishment and very good education about alcohol.

  212. Madjia says:

    Argh forgot that I can’t edit, but I think it’s really horrible people are allowed to get killed for their country, but not have a few beers in the weekend… Drinking is more dangerous than war?

  213. vim876 says:

    When I was in high school, not that long ago, I lived in the country, so people could only get to one another’s houses by car. I didn’t drink, but I lost several people, and there were many more that I know drove drunk because they were afraid to tell their parents that they’d been drinking underage and they felt that they couldn’t make up a good enough excuse. When it’s legal, it makes it more likely that kids will be honest with their parents about it, and even if they DO binge drink, they are less likely to drive. A lot fewer kids die from alcohol poisoning than drunk driving accidents.

  214. jhuang says:

    I like the idea of a drinking license. 18 to drink (and also purchase individual drinks in bars and the like), but 21 to buy from a liquor store. This would effectively solve the problem that many people mentioned (15-16 year olds knowing 18 yos but not 21 yos).

    As for the argument that our parents should teach us about alcohol, easier said than done. While I consider myself a fairly responsible drinker (underage and in college myself), my parents were always very strict and anti-alcohol. They would probably shoot themselves if they knew I’ve gotten drunk. A lower drinking age would probably make it easier for parents to be more accepting of their children’s drinking.

  215. Meathamper says:

    The age should be none. Anyone can do what they want. Sounds like utopia, but it’s true.

  216. Moosehawk says:

    I can garauntee that the law isn’t a deciding factor when kids weigh pros and cons to drink or not. When we go off to college and we’re pressured or even just accept that we will drink eventually before the age of 21, the law is DEFINITELY not a deciding factor.

    As a college student, I’ll tell you first hand when my friends and I are going to drink, we don’t say “weellll, maybe we shouldn’t because it’s illegal.”

  217. tweemo says:

    The drinking age shouldn’t simply be lowered to 18 without a change in attitude about following the rules; that won’t do anything to change the habits of high-school drinkers. What we really need is a gradual introduction of alcohol. In Germany, 16 year olds can legally drink beer (and I think wine) but aren’t supposed to have hard alcohol until 18. Of course, it’s completely possible to get drunk on beer, but it’s still a good system.

    More important is that, whatever the drinking age is, much of Europe doesn’t pay much attention to it. I was at a restaurant in Paris with my parents at 16 and they served me wine without carding me (or even asking if I wanted any; we ordered a bottle for the table). This makes complete sense, especially since I was with my parents; in the US they could card groups of young people, but not people who came with family.

  218. mrearly2 says:

    The whole “age limit” concept is stupid. IF (that’s a big IF) people were responsible for their actions, regardless of age, there wouldn’t be a problem.