Friday, September 29, 2006
Ann Althouse is exactly right.
Having grown up in a state where the drinking age was 18 there are two equally countering points that should be weighed and one very strong recommendation. Point #1: A lower drinking age will get younger kids drinking sooner. In the Upstate NY town that I grew up, many of us were regularly drinking at age 14 (at least one night a week.) I will say that access to beer in grocery stores made that very easy. Point #2: Because the mystery of booze was discovered and not overly emphasized many of us learned how to manage drinking by the time we got to college, so there were few surprises. The challenge with that is that you have to learn your limits at the age of 15,16 or 17 and something tells me that is not as good as figuring it out when you are 20 or 21?
The big caveat I have to such an idea as lowering the drinking age, would be to raise the driving age and lower the blood alcohol level to substantially low levels like it is in Europe. Europeans in general do not mix booze and driving. I hate to say it, but from personal experience having such a low drinking age and a low driving age, many of the people I grew up with learned how to drive with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a beer...
I agree. I would lower the age to purchase alcohol to 19 (to keep it out of the high schools), and raise the driving age to 18. However, I would further eliminate the drinking age for people who are in the presence of their parents, or have permission from their parents to drink with another adult who takes responsibility. There is no reason why a teenager should not have a glass of wine with his parents at dinner, whether or not in a restaurant. That creates the context for parents to teach their children about drinking responsibily, before they have gone off to college.