Friday, February 29, 2008

Vermont Latest to Eye Lower Drinking Age

Old enough to vote; old enough to fight and die in Iraq; old enough to buy tobacco and get started on a serious case of lung cancer; but not old enough to drink? Where is the logic in that?
"Our laws aren't working. They're not preventing underage drinking. What they're doing is putting it outside the public eye," Vermont state Sen. Hinda Miller said. "So you have a lot of kids binge drinking. They get sick, they get scared and they get into trouble and they can't call because they know it's illegal."

On Thursday, a committee of the Vermont Senate approved Miller's bill to have a task force weigh the pros and cons of rolling back the drinking age and make a recommendation to the Legislature early next year.
[...]
[L]ast year, former Middlebury College president John McCardell started Choose Responsibility, a nonprofit that favors allowing 18- to 20-year-olds to legally buy booze once they've completed an alcohol education program.

"We don't simply advocate the lower age, but believe mandatory alcohol education and licensing with very strict enforcement for violations of the state's alcohol laws might work," McCardell said.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others call this folly to even consider, saying the higher age limit has saved thousands of lives since the 1984 enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. The act required states to raise the age to 21 or lose federal transportation money.

"Is there any significant support in the U.S. Congress for changing the law? We don't see that," said Chuck Hurley, CEO of MADD.

Typically, when states flirt with the idea, they quickly abandon it for fear of losing the highway funding, he said.
What would the implications be for Greeks? If it is legal to drink at 18 would that lessen the liability in cases of alcohol related incidents ("He made his own choice, the Fraternity had no part.") Or would the number of problems increase to an unacceptable level (as if there is no drinking NOW)?

News from The Associated Press