The Drinking Age
posted by August 20 at 11:51 AMon
The folks that have to deal with the consequences of underage drinking on a daily basis—the men and women that run US colleges and universities—are calling on legislators to return the drinking age to 18:
Scores of college presidents, including the head of Maryland’s public university system and the president of Johns Hopkins University, have an unexpected request for legislators: Please, lower the drinking age.
The Amethyst Initiative, launched in July, is a coalition of college presidents who say that the legal drinking age of 21 encourages binge drinking on campuses. William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, William Brody, president of Johns Hopkins, C.D. Mote Jr. of the University of Maryland and the presidents of Washington and Lee, Sweet Briar, Towson, Randolph-Macon, Duke, Tufts, Dartmouth and others have signed on to the effort.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) isn’t having it:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, though, quickly denounced the idea as irresponsible and dangerous.
MADD’s national president, Laura Dean-Mooney, even suggested, “Parents should think twice before sending their teens to these colleges or any others that have waved the white flag on underage and binge drinking policies.”
Atrios makes an excellent suggestion:
…let 18 year olds have a drinking license or a driver’s license but not both.
Teenagers are notoriously terrible drivers. So whatever we can do to encourage teenagers to refrain from driving is, I think, all for the good. And I can’t think of a better incentive than a drinking license. But a teenager’s drinking license should only allow him or her to purchase booze in a bar, club, or restaurant, and not cases or kegs in liquor stores, grocery stores, or gas stations. Otherwise one kid in a group will give up his driver’s license in exchange for a drinking license and become the designated buyer for a large number of teenagers who’re still out there driving.
Atrios also wonders why MADD doesn’t do more mass transit advocacy. If more people could take fast and efficient mass transit to the places where they like to drink—baseball stadiums, nightlife districts, the friends’ parents’ basements—fewer people would drink and drive.