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Question of the day

Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008

* The setup

College presidents from about 100 of the nation’s best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus. […]

“This is a law that is routinely evaded,” said John McCardell, ex-president of Middlebury College in Vermont, who started the organization. “It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory.” […]

Mothers Against Drunk Driving says lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes. It accuses the presidents of misrepresenting science and, in the words of MADD CEO Chuck Hurley, “waving the white flag.”

Both sides agree alcohol abuse by college students is a huge problem. Research has found that more than 40 percent of college students reported at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. One study estimated more than 500,000 full-time students at four-year colleges suffer injuries each year related in some way to drinking, a

* The question: Should Illinois lower the drinking age to 18? Explain.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Captain Flume - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:09 am:

    No. Imagine even more drunk drivers on the road. And insurance rates wouild surely sky-rocket, not just for 18-year-olds.

  2. - Skeptic Cal - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:12 am:

    I really am at a loss to understand the linkage of binge drinking to the drinking age law.
    Illinois experimented with this before allowing age 19 and the experiment failed to show any positives.
    Making it legal will not lead to young people being more prudent in their drinking habits among the binge drinking crowd.

  3. - wndycty - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:13 am:

    Yes, but with stricter penalties for: adults who supply alcohol to minors, venues that serve underage drinkers, etc.

  4. - Lefty - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:15 am:

    So is the theory here that if students can buy alcohol legally at age 18 they would be less likely to binge drink? So hy not lower the voting age then so voters can become disillusioned earlier in life about politics or let’s let people get their driver’s license at 14 so they can get their wild, youthful driving habits out of their systems sooner. This thinking and logice totally escapes any reasonable thinking.

  5. - The Doc - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:16 am:

    That’s a poor reason for lowering the legal drinking age. If you’re going to make an argument for doing so, how about the notion that 18 year-olds can be drafted into the armed forces, vote in any election, and purchase tobacco products?

    Didn’t mean to get off topic, but this solution seems silly.

  6. - archpundit - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:16 am:

    —Making it legal will not lead to young people being more prudent in their drinking habits among the binge drinking crowd.

    Actually, there’s a fair amount of evidence that treating alcohol as something you don’t have to do at a party or the sort reduces binge drinking. The issue is that if you can only drink illegally you tend to go overboard when alcohol is available and drink too much too quickly. What you don’t do is sit down and have a beer and watch the game in your dorm room responsibly.

  7. - Justice - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:21 am:

    That scares me and I’m not scared of anything except politicians promising to do good by us. Lowering the drinking age is simply asking the casket companies to build more caskets. Morbid but true. There are common sense rules and the drink when you are 21 is one of them. I often think that if you are old enough to die for your country you should be old enough to drink. But then I am reminded that there are more people killed by drunks than by war these days. I say no to more drunken youths in car crashes!

  8. - Lee - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:23 am:

    Yes, lower it to 18.
    Along with this, tighten up and strictly enforce laws concerning drinking and driving and the purchase of alcohol by adults for those below the legal age.

  9. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    Its a difficult question to answer. While it is critical to control the sobriety of drivers (all ages), current laws do not appear up to the task.

    It is naive to believe that underage drinkers are not already on the road. It is clear that underage drinking is at least popular if not rampant. Furthermore, there are places where one could drink which do not involve the use of a motor vehicle. Current laws prohibit alcohol consumption my minors under all circumstances. As the University administrators propose, that may not be the best policy.

    This would be a time to look for unbiased advice fro the proper professionals. We know Prohibition was not successful in changing the population. Good luck in getting some unbiased advice.

  10. - North of I-80 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:25 am:

    Have been opposed but when I hear the question “if I am old enough to fight & die for the country, why can’t I drink a beer here?” I am stopped.

    I can support it IF IF we greatly stiffen penalties for everyone violating any alcohol/open alcohol while driving laws; MANDATORY sentencing for all DUIs and take seriously the offense that kills more people than inner-city violence and Iraq/Afghanistan war combined [DUI alcohol].

    Drink at a college party & walk home? Fine. Get stopped for DUI? lose your car, mandatory jail time, $1000’s in fines & court costs and license revocation for 10 years - no plea bargains.

  11. - HoBoSkillet - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:34 am:

    Yes - I think this will solve some of the problems that go on in college towns. Binge drinking tends to occur at private house parties and not at bars and taverns. Either lower the drinking age to 18, or at least lower access to bars to 18 and get these kids out of partying in the neighborhoods and get them into the bars. There they will have to sometimes pay a cover charge, pay per drink, be responsible for their behavior, or face consequences that they are not usually responsible for at these house parties (vandalism etc…)

    Obviously this solution is not going to solve all problems but I do not see it creating any significant new problems either. Especially after 18, kids who want to drink are going to do it anyways and I think culturally we are being more permissive of allowing 18-21 year olds to drink after they have graduated from high school. I have no empirical evidence of that but I have noticed it more with family, friends, co-workers, etc…

  12. - BandCamp - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    Flume, as most adults here who drank underage will attest, if you want booze, you will get booze no matter what the legal age requirement.

    I can’t say that I can form an educated opinion about this topic. In general, I would be against it…however, as it pertains to college campuses? Dunno.

  13. - rich fiengold - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:38 am:

    Yes but tax it at 25% for people aged 18-21 then we can use that revenue stream to pay for the salaries of the relatives Emil has working for the state. It is a win-win.

  14. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:40 am:

    “Should Illinois lower the drinking age to 18?”

    Yes. The alcohol prohibition for adults under the age of 21 fosters a disregard for The Law and creates zones of lawlessness.

    Just as speakeasies were zones where illegal alcohol sales weren’t the only criminal/anti-social activities taking place, college binge parties are zones where social norms — even the permissive social norms of college students — are suspended. And within those zones, anti-social behavior above and beyond mere elicit consumption — binge drinking, unhealthy sexual activity, narcotics use — not only take place, but are expected to take place.

    We cannot treat 18-21 year-olds like children and expect them to act like adults.

    And the fact that military veterans are coming home from Iraq without limbs but are unable to legally order a beer calls for a big ol’ WTF?!? If I’m old enough to die for the USA, I’m old enough to order a PBR.

    – SCAM
    so-called “Austin Mayor”

  15. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:43 am:

    Kinda semi-sorta on topic:

    – SCAM
    so-called “Austin Mayor”

  16. - Levois - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    I don’t have a position. I would have no problem with an 18 year old being able to legally buy alcohol, at the same time I have no problem with current laws. I just accept that if people want to drink in spite of what the law says, then they will.

  17. - Scared to Drive now - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:50 am:

    Fix the real problem:

    Whether we lower the age or not, we need to get all the DUI’s off the road.

    Too many people drive with suspended or revoked licenses, get caught and then continue to do the same thing.

    There should be absolutely no tolerance for this…………………

  18. - Huh? - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:53 am:

    I think this has been tried before. The year I turned 19 (1976) the drinking age was lowered to 19 for beer and wine. Two years later the drinking age was raised to 21.

    This is a bad idea.

  19. - Heartless Libertarian - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    You can vote when you are 18, you can go to war when you are 18, you can get married when you are 18, so why can’t you have a beer? Because neo-prohibitionists say so. That’s why.

  20. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    Yes, and raise the driving age to 17.

  21. - so-called "Austin Mayor" - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:59 am:

    Definitely on topic:

    – SCAM

  22. - Fan of the Game - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:13 pm:

    I’m not necessarily opposed to lowering the drinking age (though at first blush, it seems like a bad idea), but the rationale given by the university and college presidents is ridiculous

  23. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:22 pm:

    It seems the real debate here is would college kids be more likely to go to a bar to drink if the drinking age was lowered, in place of hitting a frat house or other private location where binge drinking is more likely to occur.

    On the campus I attended the beer at private parties was either free, or unlimited for a $5 cup purchase. Even if drinking in a bar is legal, I think the cheaper cost of drinking at priovate locations on campus will still result in binge drinking. Few college kids are going to pay 3-5 bucks a drink at a bar when they can drink from a Keg for a single flat rate price.

    However by encouraging kids to hit bars to drink you may be increasing the number of people who are drinking and driving. Most private parties tend to have people who wlak to the location, and many of the attendees end up sleeping/passing out on site. Bars tend to frown on somone curling up in the corner, and are often located sufficiently away from campus housing that driving is preferred over walking.

    But if it truly would reduce binge drinking by a significant degree, with only a nominal increase in drunken driving, I could support it.

    Then again, how about we raise the driving age to 21 and put the drinking age at 18.

  24. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:25 pm:

    Set the drinking age at 18 only for those who brew or distill their own and share with friends.

  25. - Youngster - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:26 pm:

    Instead of trying to change the age limit so they justify walking away from the problems caused by binge drinking, these particular college presidents should be doing more to challenge and change the culture around alcohol on their campuses and in the communities that surround them.

  26. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:30 pm:

    In many European countries, 18 is the legal age, but those under 18 can drink in certain situations (ie. at dinner with a legal guardian). I like the idea of teaching young adults to drink responsibly, which is impossible if it is illegal.

    I would like my kids to learn that wine is to be enjoyed by the glass with dinner, not by the bottle in the back seat of a car.

    There is a lot of research-based info available at:

  27. - A Citizen - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:36 pm:

    Pot =
    “..I would like my kids to learn that wine is to be enjoyed by the glass with dinner, not by the bottle in the back seat of a car…”

    Those are not mutually exclusive. Each can be enjoyed at the proper time and place.

  28. - Jimmy87 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:36 pm:

    We really need to sit down as a nation and decide exactly what constitutes being an adult, and it’s not just for alcohol, it’s everything.

    Take driving for example. Think about it; essentially a car is two ton hunk of metal, filled with a flammable liquid and capable of traveling at triple digit speeds. We have entrusted the responsibility to drive a car to 16 year olds, yet in the state of Illinois don’t even THINK about trying to get a tattoo, on your OWN body until your 18. It’s absurd.

    Moreover, it seems like routinely I read about a 15 year old being charged as an adult in one county, while in another county a 16 year old may be charged as a youth for the same offense. Once again it just doesn’t make any sense.

    Personally, I think 16 is too young to drive and 21 is too long to have to wait to drink. I would be in favor of lowering the drinking age to 18 and raising the driving age to 18 too.

  29. - Lefty Lefty - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:50 pm:

    I agree with Jimmy and Pot. There is no rational explanation for treating 18-year-olds like kids or criminals when they are plenty old enough to work out the nuances of drinking alcohol if it were legal for them. The idea that the mere illegality of 18-20 year-olds drinking creates a deterrent is absurd.

    One thing that does work, though, is the uniform drinking age (and uniform bar time, for that matter). Having border teens driving into IL on Friday night scares me to death. Same with the idiot looking for one last drink at 2am.

  30. - Dwight Zinfandel - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:53 pm:

    Unless I’m mistaken these initiatives usually get hung up when the fed threatens to hold back highway dollars. Perhaps a combo of mandatory drunk driving sentences combined with a driving age of 18 would be a suitable compromise.

    Campuses can also work more closely with local municipalities to increase transit options. One or two “drunk buses” isn’t enough. I went to a school where nobody had to drive and now live in a city full of taxis, buses, and trains. I can’t imagine how anybody ever drinks in commuter towns.

    And hey, these options are all “green” too. If you’re going to drink until you’re green you might as well go all the way with it…

  31. - pchappel - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 12:53 pm:

    There should only be one age of “majority”, if it is 18, then so be it. No, drive at one age, enter contracts legally/etc. at another and drink at yet another. Of course, that is the simple view :-)

  32. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:11 pm:

    Lowering the drinking age to 18 may or may not contribute to increaded traffic fatalities… but if it does, the same argument can be made for increasing the drinking age to 50. If minimum drinking-age laws prevent drinking deaths, and I’m not convinced they do, then surely we will save lives by increasing the age to 40, 50, or 60. Of course that would be silly… so let’s treat all adults uniformly and fairly… an 18 year old drinking age makes sense.

  33. - The Reaper - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    This is common sense if you ask me. You can die for your country but not drink a beer??? Change the age now! Either raise the voting/military age to 21 or lower the drinking age to 18. Most of the world is right on par with this law. I never seen binge drinking or massive abuse in countries where the law is 18.

  34. - ignored by the MSM - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:18 pm:

    Hmm, If I understand correctly, at age 17, you can get charged as an adult with underage drinking.

  35. - Baltimoron - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:21 pm:

    I agree with those who said we should agree on one age when you are now legally an adult (and able to vote, get married, change your name, enter a contest, drive a car, be charged as an adult, fight in the military, rent a car, drink legally) We shouldn’t lump all the punishments at 18 and reserve some of the privileges until 21. That said, I agree that 18 to legally consume and purchase alcohol is a fair solution. My kids are 4 and less than 1 now, so we’ll see if I change my tune when the oldest is 17.

  36. - Walter Joseph Kovacs - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:22 pm:

    I’m just spitballing here, but by dropping the drinking age to 18 (to decrease binge drinking by the 18-20yo crowd), aren’t we increasing the likelihood of binge drinking in, oh, say, the 15-17 yo crowd? University president high iqs indeed.

  37. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:23 pm:

    This makes it easier for high schoolers to get liquor.

  38. - Jason - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:40 pm:

    This indeed is a difficult topic, both sides have solid arguments … and both are true. It has been shown that the increase in auto accidents with individuals not in college, but students still in high school and those who choose not to go to college.

    But more injuries occur with underage students who drink at private parties, were alcohol freely available and everyone drinks till they’re drunk and drives home.

    These college presidents must do more than simply lobby for a return to 18 year old drinking, they must provide social education, courses about alcohol, drugs, sex and other vices that are prevalent in our society.

    We must come up with solutions to our ills other than elimination, termination, or extinction.

  39. - Miranda - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:46 pm:

    I say no…irregardless of auto accidents, DUIs, and other arguments for or against, for me it’s simple. Research has shown that the human brain is still developing well into a person’s early 20s. If young adults are allowed to use alcohol, what is doing to their brain development?? Why would we even consider making it legal? University presidents should make the consequences much stricter….I know of several colleges (yes, they are religious ones) where a student caught drinking, on or off campus, can be suspended or even expelled from school. What consequences do they have now at most universities?

  40. - Black Ivy - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 1:58 pm:

    Absolutely not. A dangerous proposition that will only result in further debauchery and more unintended deaths. Most young people aren’t event mature enought to handle their liquor at 21. Have you visited U. of I or Southern laterly?!? Geez.

  41. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:06 pm:

    I think this whole argument just nips at the margins.

    If the laws stay the same, campus drinking keeps on going on as it does now, with some under-21’s restricted from some taverns but otherwise going about their business, drinking or not.

    If the law changes, activities previously winked at now become officially sanctioned. A few more 18-20’s at the taverns rather than the apartment keggers.

    I would suspect the effect of a statewide lowering of the age limit would impact the well being of non-college and community college 18-20’s far more than “live on campus” 18-20’s, due to the auto-centric lives of the former and the walkable campus lives of the latter. Again, this is at the margins because there are plenty of 18-20’s who do manage to consume alcohol now.

    I agree lowering the age limit also puts alcohol within easier reach of the under-18’s because of downward mobility of friend’s ID’s.

    For the record, I was fully expatriated at age 17, living on my own, driving a car and working. I probably “should” have gotten into trouble a few times, but never did.

  42. - The Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:24 pm:

    Mr. Kovacs and Wumpus raise the mirror image of one big argument that was made when the drinking age was raised from 19 to 21: At that time people argued that the higher age won’t bother the college kids much (they’ll get it anyway), but it’ll help keep the stuff out of high school.

    In short, the law was made with no intention of vigorous enforcement (though there are more today who would prosecute to the fullest than there were 30 years ago). As some of your commenters have recognized, this breeds contempt for the law… and not just this one.

    Yes, there’s a danger of increased DUI’s — When I was a teen and the age in Illinois was 19 and the age in Wisconsin was 18, there was a steady stream of drunk kids in cars on Routes 12 and 14 and 41 and not all of them made it home. This was probably one of the reasons why the Federal government forced ALL the states to go to 21 (at the risk of their highway funds).

    So it couldn’t be just Illinois — it would have to be all the states.

    But — as the parent of kids between 15 and 24 — YES, I’m in favor of lowering the age. And really enforcing the more liberal law. (And we’d have to figure out how to legally distinguish between letting your kid have a sip of wine at the holidays and goofball enablers throwing a ‘kegger’ for their kid’s Sweet 16 party.)

    Also, in response to several comments trying to tie the drinking age to the driving age: NO! Granted, 16 is too young to drive anywhere and everywhere, but — unless you have a chauffeur (or an aide who can be used for this purpose, legally or not) — how does a kid play football in high school and not drive? Or cheerlead? Or be on the debate team? Public transportation is hit or miss — and largely miss. Very few districts have an “activity bus” running after the regular runs — if any still do. Basically, you can’t ride a bus and do high school sports — so either the kid drives or s/he doesn’t join up. Especially if the parents work during the day.

    Is this really what you want?

  43. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:29 pm:

    ==Most young people aren’t even mature enough to handle their liquor at 21.== (2 silent t’s deleted)

    I turned 21 at the end of fall semester of my senior year in college. This means I picked a college, lived on my own for four years, chose a major and determined the course of my entire life. Yet, I was not able to decide if I could have an alcoholic drink.
    IMHO, the ‘forbidden fruit’ factor should not be diminished in allowing some, but the dangers of DUI (and sex crimes) make me think a blanket dropping of the age is in order. How about we lower it for those who can prove they are working full-time, going to school full-time or in the military full time? But on the other hand have a zero tolerance and if you get caught driving with ANY alcohol you lose your license until your 21. Gotta be some common ground here somewhere….

  44. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:30 pm:

    Geez…I meant a “blanket dropping of the age is NOT in order.”

  45. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:31 pm:

    Walter Joseph Kovacs: You may be right… but perhaps many (certainly not all) 15-17 year olds still are young enough not to want to or are too scared to engage in binge drinking… but at the 18-20 age range they likely feel more adult and idependent and worry less about the consequences. So I don’t think you can easily say it is the legal drinking age itself that determines when kids start to drink.

  46. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:33 pm:

    No. Many years ago I went to UW Madison when drinking age was 18. Walk out of the library, turn right, Kollege Klub (KK)was 50 feet away. State Street filled with 18-year-old bars.(Var-Bar was my favorite). Student Union (Rathskeller) served beer in pitchers at 9 a.m. on way to class. I don’t know if you called it binge drinking, but it was drinking all the time.

    Does that solve the problem?

  47. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:40 pm:

    Re immy above, I’m sorry turn left out of the library for the KK. I usually turned right because I was headed for the entrance of the library, but never made it.

  48. - Reformer - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:45 pm:

    If the drinking age at 21` causes binge drinking among college students, then will an 18-yr. old age cause more binge drinking among high school students just under 18?

    As far as the old argument “if you’re old enough to fight, you’re old enough to drink,” that can be addressed by allowing only those few teens under 21 who are serving in the armed forces to drink underage. Why should 99% of 18-yr olds be able to drink because 1% serve?

  49. - Reformer - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:47 pm:

    As far as the argument for a uniform age for all adult activities, should high school students at 18 be able to buy handguns without parental permission? Should 18-yr olds be able to drive school busses? Enter casinos? Serve in the state legislature and in Congress?

  50. - downhereforyears - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:48 pm:

    NO! I’m not sure I understand the logic…are they saying that binge drinking occurs because it’s illegal for them to drink and if that’s the case it stops if you make them legal. I think not.

  51. - Reformer - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:49 pm:

    If you ask teens if they’d trade off a higher driving age for a lower drinking age, they say no. They already have access to booze underage anyway. That access will become even easier for younger teens when their 18-yr old classmates and siblings can legally buy it.

  52. - Lefty Lefty - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:50 pm:

    Hey! I went to UW-Madtown too! What year did you graduate?

    I went to UW when the drinking age was being raised to 21. When I was 18, it was 19, when I was 19 it became 21. Did that stop me or anybody else on campus from drinking? NO. And where was the most trouble–at the KK, or on Langdon Street at the frat houses? Just one guess! Garbage cans full of grain-alcohol concoctions, 20 barrels of beer, no IDing attendees, high schoolers showing up. You name it, it was available and promoted to recent high-school graduates at the fraternities and the rental houses.

    A series of horrible incidents at UW brought significant rule changes to the fraternities and a much saner atmosphere there. It doesn’t even make the top 5 in the party school list anymore! But the alcohol is still there for anyone who wants it. The debate is on the merits of allowing 18-20 year-olds try the stuff legally or illegally. Legally, to me, makes sense.

    It seems that those opposed to the concept of the lower drinking age are not willing to listen to the debate but are willing to discuss horrible dystopic futures for the country if we acknowledged that 18-20 year-olds can handle a beer. If there are facts and data supporting the proposal, there will still be plenty of people who will find volumes of proof of their opposing position somewhere.

  53. - Enemy of the State - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:55 pm:

    When society controls underage citizens in the same manner the USMC controls recruits, serve the underage citizens alcohol.

  54. - Black Ivy - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 2:58 pm:

    Vote Quimby! - sorry for the misspellings, man. What can I say? Multi-tasking.

    FYI - I thought it implicit in our posts/responses that our views only reflect our own personal experiences and opinions.

    So add this to my prior post- “IN MY OPINION, most young people aren’t even mature enough to handle their liquor at 21 (sans the misspellings!)

    Lowering the legal drinking age is a short-sighted solution. Perhaps penalizing alcohol vendors located near colleges and universities, holding parents or legal adults who purchase alcohol responsible, or implementing some good old-fashioned student education might be in order.

  55. - Bingey - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:07 pm:

    I went to college when the drinking age was 18 and I was 17. Got drunk off my a#$. The reason is because I was away from home. At home, you couldn’t get stupid drunk w/o consequences. Away at school, it was party all the time.

    Unless the U.S. decides to turn European and allow kids to drink a beer or glass of wine with dinner at 8 or 10 years old in order to de-stigmatize and de-mystify the allure of alcohol, changing the drinking age is not going to make a difference. Except maybe to make it easier to drink in HS and to get more drunk drivers on the road at an earlier age.

  56. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:21 pm:

    Bingey, you mean European like france which has a higer rate of alcoholism then the US in part becuase they begin drinking at such a young age?

  57. - Jim - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:37 pm:

    If you are old enough to go to war, you should be old enough to drink a beer.

  58. - Vote Quimby! - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:51 pm:

    Black Ivy–not a problem, happens all the time but enjoy pointing out others’ mistakes…

    My point was that any college junior has already registered for classes that will determine the rest of their life, but can’t legally drink. I was the youngest in my high school class, and it sucked when all my friends turned 21 in college while I was still denied access to the bars. But certainly it was an annoyance and not a hindrance to obtaining alcohol. When I was a reporter I covered a mom charged with supplying alcohol to her son and friends to keep them off the roads– then one 17-year-old guy raped a passed-out 16-year-old. (She got probation.) People do stupid things when they’re drunk, and I agree most people that age can’t handle it. But I know a large part of alcohol’s attraction is the fact you can’t have it–so how about a carrot approach? You join the military, go to college/tech school, get a job, THEN you get to drink?

  59. - Jaded - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 3:59 pm:

    A better way to solve the problem would be to increase the drinking age to 25. Then hardly anybody on campus (except staff, grad students and professional students) could buy liquor. I know I was a lot more mature at 25 than I was at 21, so it only makes sense. Get the liquor off campuses raise the drinking age. Man would that be a great stick in the eye to the Belgium company that just bought Anheuser Bush.

  60. - zatoichi - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 4:42 pm:

    I do not recall any problems getting alcohol in any form, any time I wanted it in college. Seems the research my kids and their friends have done on the same topic shows the situation has not changed. Does not make it right. The only place this matters is, will the bars be busted for serving minors. Talking to several cops at various campuses in Illinois unless someone is just blatantly stupid, they are not going to mess with them. Is the drinking age important? If it makes people feel like they are doing something. The idiotcy of binge drinking happens regardless of settings and regardless of the horror stories reported in the news. I do not know how to stop it, but I will bet the same things happened in 1920 and will happen in 2050.

  61. - Keyser Soze - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 5:11 pm:

    What is the drinking age in the average European country? The lure of alcohol to young people in this country is that they are not permitted to use it, the forbidden fruit. It is readily available to any high school age kid who wants it. Go ahead legalize it, but also begin educating students at an early age as to the proper use of alcohol.

  62. - Leigh - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 6:16 pm:

    I like 19. There are kids in highschool who are 18.

  63. - The Shadow Knows - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 6:20 pm:

    No, the drinking age should not be lowered to 18 years of age. The alcohol industry and their numerous lobbiests are probably behind this bad idea. In addition to this bad idea, how about this one: people over 65 years of age should not be allowed to drink either. People over 65 years of age are lucky to remember where they live or where they parked their car even when they haven’t been drinking, much less when they have a few drinks in them.

  64. - Ghost - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 8:24 pm:

    Keyser Soze, you do realise it is complete folk lore that giving alcohol to young kids makes them somehow better with handling alcohol?

    A recent survey showed that American teens are using less tobacco and alcohol than the young teens in Europe, according to a study released during a World Health Organization conference.

    “”people as young as 20s are currently dying of alcohol-related liver disease, and even teens are developing it”.”

    According to recent statistics the European Union decided to take decisive measures against harmful alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence. The European Union is the heaviest alcohol consumer region worldwide, with alcohol consumption per person over twice the average: 11 liters of pure alcohol per year.

    it would appear that Europe is looking to introduce US style restorcitions on drinking because of the huge problems faced by their young. We do not need to add liver disease to the problems facing our youth.

  65. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 9:43 pm:

    When I was much younger, boys had to be 21 to buy liquor, girls only 18. We all lusted for an older girlfriend. Then everyone 21 for a while, then everyone 18 (or was it 19?), and then back to everyone 21, as up through now.

    To tell the truth, I can’t see where any of it has made much difference except the last move, which seems to have been SOME PART of substantially reducing deaths among teenage drunk drivers. None of the changes had any effect on my ability to get beer and liquor (though it did affect my ability to enter taverns), nor did it appear to have an effect on students in the university town where I lived off and on.

    My gut reaction is that the college presidents’ proposal is a bad idea. However, I have to admit I don’t know enough of the science and research on the issue to currently hold an informed opinion. I do know that there is a substantial problem in some university towns (remember Carbondale’s Halloween problem, the UofI’s current problem with alternative St Patricks Day, as examples). And, in both Champaign and Charleston I have read of bar sweeps where 25-75 minors were arrested in ONE bar.

    Do many young people drink? Yes. Do some young people drink far too much? Yes. Do some (many?) young and middle age and old people binge drink? Yes. Does the drinking age have much to do with these three outcomes. I don’t know.

  66. - Jack - Tuesday, Aug 19, 08 @ 11:29 pm:

    How about only allowing 18 year olds to drink if they have a valid military ID? It might help with recruitment. And it would squash the old enough to fight for your country, but not old enough to drink argument. They have special rules set up now for getting licenses when your 16. Why not allow those that prove responsible enough to join the military, the ability to drink.

  67. - Captain America - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 6:34 am:

    I’ll go with the College Presidents’ position since they are closer to the campus alcohol situation/better informed than we are. I don’t believe it will affect binge drinking one way or the other.

    People are drinking when they are 18,legal or not.I say make it legal - stop the hypocrisy. I never had any problem getting someone to buy alcohol for me when I was in college/before age 21. No underage drinker in college has any problem getting access to all the alchohl they want - one way or another.

    My main concern is drinking and driving. But,if you’re old old enough to serve your country/die for your country, you’re old emeough to drink period.

    I would recommend very strict enforcement of DUI laws, regardless of the legal drinking age, coupled with intense public education campaigns to promote responsible drinking behavior - not driving and drinking, designated driers,alcoholism etc, the whole kit and caboodle.

  68. - Ghost - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 7:57 am:

    CA is right, we need to stop the hypocrisy. Sure in Europe where they have lowered the drinking age they are encountering higher rates of alcoholism and they are seein liver failure in teenagers from alcohol consumption, higher rates of suicide by teens whose depression is amplified by the constant flow of alcohol, but if our kids are old enough to die for our country, we migh as well speed them on the way by adding death by alcohol to the acceptable list of ways to remove teens.

    ahh alcohol, is there no problem you can not solve.

  69. - Beerman - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 8:17 am:

    In Germany the drinking age for beer and wine is 16 - 18 for spirits. However, you are not allowed to drive until your 18. Then from the age of 18 to 20 the BAC limit is zero tolerance. Perhaps we should learn something from the European countries instead of thinking we have all the answers.

  70. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Aug 20, 08 @ 8:25 am:

    Been there, doesn’t work, stupid idea.
    How many times are we to repeat history?

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