Nanny State 21: Is it time to lower the drinking age?


The drinking age in the US has been 21 for more than 20 years.

Today, we all take the drinking age for granted, but should we? In fact, the US is one of only four countries in the world with a drinking age as high as 21—the other three are Indonesia, Mongolia and Palau.

Is the policy working to reduce health and safety issues related to youthful alchohol abuse? Is enforcing the drinking age the best use of scarce public resources? What are the unintended consequences of alcohol prohibition for 18-20 year olds?

Organizations such as Mother Against Drunk Driving (MADD) argue that the drinking age is an effective policy and that the answer to ongoing alcohol related problems for 18-20 year olds is more education and better enforcement.

John McCardell, president of Choose Responsibility, and 135 university presidents and chancellors across the country believe it's time to take a fresh look at the drinking age. The former president of Middlebury College and the new head of Sewanee/University of the South, McCardell says our current system encourages unsupervised binge drinking. went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin to get a first-hand look at the war on underage drinking.

Produced and hosted by Paul Feine; shot and edited by Alex Manning. Approximately 10 minutes long. Go to for downloadable iPod, HD and audio versions of this and all our videos. Subscribe to's YouTube page and receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

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  1. “our current system encourages unsupervised binge drinking”

    I’m trying to remember any supervised binge drinking going on back when I could get a drink at 18. The best I can come up with is my mom telling me I smelled like a damn alcoholic.

    1. I think the binge drinking on colleges just proves that those under 21 cannot handle alcohol, hence the reason for the 21 age. The 21 age is a responsible thing to do. Colleges and universities are for learning, and getting drunk is diametrically opposed to learning. We should be striving to create a safe learning environment for America’s children, not endangering them with a low drinking age.

      1. Average troll.

        1. Hardly.

          Well below average, I’d say.

      2. If they were actually children, the Anglicized Juanita would have a point.

        1. Precisely! 18-20 year olds are adults, not children, and should be treated as such.

      3. America’s children

        They don’t belong to the state. Yet.

      4. You mean like the binge drinking by adults in speakeasies in the 1920s proved that no Americans (of any age) can handle alcohol? We should be striving to make America safe and sober overall, not to allow those stupid drunk Americans to waste their lives with legal booze when they could be working harder.


      5. Horseshit. Getting drunk is only “diametrically opposed” to sobriety. Colleges and universities are indeed for learning, but that also involves learning about life choices. They are also learning how a hypocritical government tells them “You are now 18, a legal adult, free to make all of your own choices.. except when it comes to drinking.”

        1. Drinking and college have always gone hand in hand. In fact, college students have been drinking since the first universities were founded, such as Oxford in 1096 AD. Google “Party Like It’s MCCL” and see what I mean.

      6. It’s hard to imagine anyone saying this being genuine, so you’re likely a troll. But let’s first just say “getting drunk is diametrically opposed to learning” is pure anecdotal bullshit. Clearly no great thinkers in human history touched the stuff, right. But let’s digress to the larger, more patently incorrect insinuation. That being between 18-21 means you are a college student, that education is important to you, that you should not be able to weigh these choices and that Joan here knows what’s best for them.

        These people, by the way, are not children. They are, legally, adults.

        But let’s speak of “endangering” these poor, voting-age, military (DRAFT!) eligible children. All manners of analyzing this indicate that prohibition endangers the users, the producers, the sellers, and those around them. Activity made illegal is driven underground, when disaster strikes help is not sought as the user, those around him, those who enabled drinking on the property, and those who purchased and sold it all stand to face legal repercussions.

        We can argue that binge drinking is an EFFECT of prohibiting these individuals from drinking openly. It certainly stands to reason that this is at the very least a strong factor. Legalizing their behavior will not eliminate binge drinking, but it will certainly not increase it and frankly most people who know anything about these matters would say it’s likely to decrease it.

      7. Not really, I took my time to enjoy a few scotches at 16. It’s definitely more of a personal thing than an age thing. I don’t think I ever “binge drank”.

    2. Actually my mom would never have said “damn”, come to think of it.

  2. the US is one of only four countries in the world with a drinking age as high as 21

    The United States is the Only Modern Industrial Nation? that…oh…

    Never mind!

    1. Just another reason to move to Canada.

  3. I remember being in high school in Massachusetts when the drinking age was 18. The event that caused the state to raise it to 20 (then 21 a few years later) was a group of girls dying in a car accident all with a blood alcohol level of over .30. They were guzzling whiskey before the crash. Everyone universally agreed it was an experiment that failed.

    1. It’s a good thing the minimum drinking age is now 21, because underage adults would drink and drive if the age were to be lowered.

      1. It’s a good thing the minimum drinking age is now 21, because underage adults would drink and drive if the age were to be lowered.


        At no point in time has anyone under the legal drinking age driven drunk.

        1. Because, as you know, anyone who would drive drunk wouldn’t think of breaking a second law.

        2. ‘underage adults’ seems like a red-flag for some sarcasm…

    2. Just wait till they legalize pot in California. Our pot-free schools will go to hell.

      1. There are no pot-free schools in California.

        1. Yes, and from a previous Reason article, we all know how well our pot smoking schools in California are doing.

          My guess is the schools in DC actually lead the nation in this one category.

        2. Yeah right. Next your gonna tell me the kids are having sex after being taught about abstinence. Right…

          1. Yup,because they are going to put the pot machine right next to the bud light machine and newport dispensor. Oh wait you can’t guy beer and cigs in school and they are legal but every highschool kid can buy pot and its illegal.

    3. The main lesson to be learned from that incident is that politicians make bad laws based on emotional appeal and single, possibly isolated, events so that they can look like they are doing something.

      1. OMG! Emotionally driven laws are a real problem!

        We’ve got to do something about it!

        Congress ought to make a law!

    4. Listen, it’s not the 1970s anymore. Drunk driving is nowhere near as socially acceptable as it was back then. That is also true in Canada, where the drinking age remained at 18 or 19 depending on the province, and they saw the same decline in fatalities as the USA did. Those that will drive drunk after the drinking age is lowered to 18 are already doing it now.

  4. She has since stated that MADD “has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned ? I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving”

    – Candy Lightner, Founder of MADD

    1. Anyone else picture her as Maud’dib, lamenting what his Jihad had become?

      1. She might as well be, since such an outcome should have been easily predictable to her.

        1. Eh. In fairness, Drunk Driving WAS a problem, and MADD *did* do something about it.

          Lots of other organizations have succumbed to mission creep, but that doesn’t mean that we ought to roll back civil rights just because some of the organizations that for civil rights in the 1960s have been taken over by successors that oppose civil rights today – and we certainly shouldn’t blame those individuals who stepped up to address serious problems when it was necessary, and stepped back down when they had accomplished their goals.

          The faults of MADD lie directly with those who turned it into what it is today, no one else.

    2. They should lower the drinking age to 18 and have mandatory life sentences for anyone who drives drunk. Problem solved.

      1. I bet you’re high.

        1. You’re only saying that because his Engrish is impeccable for a cab driver.

      2. They should lower the drinking age to 18 and have mandatory life sentences for anyone who drives drunk. Problem solved.

        Drunk drivers who kill should be subjected to the death penalty.

        1. If someone knowingly mishandled a pistol, and a child died because of it, would that be about the same as killing someone by driving drunk?

  5. The Economist magazine ran an article about two years ago in which it cited data showing that young people aged 18-21 were using designated drivers, cabs, etc, at a rate higher than we adults. If this is so, it would seem to prove that education, not prohibition, is more effective. It would also suggest that 18-21 year olds have proven themselves capable of drinking responsibly.

    But as happens so often, mission creep has appeared. The original purposes for the higher drinking age was to reduce DWI fatalities and keep alcohol out of high schools. Now fighting “underage drinking” among 18-21 year olds has become an end in itself.

    1. One of the things that they could do as well would be to maintain the 0.01 DUI BAC for those under 21, but permit those from 18-21 to drink. MADD keeps its rigid DUI enforcement, young adults are liberated from the paternalism of the nanny state.

      1. Yeah, like we could confine that 0.01 BAC to those under 21. No thanks.

      2. It’s a compromise, and better than what we have now I suppose, but it is no less unfair to those 18, 19, and 20. Nor is it in any way a practical limit; it’s not practical to expect nor is it by any way of thinking a level that inhibits driving.

        How is any of this tolerable under the civil rights amendment? If the government isn’t following it — it being the only institution that should have to in the first place — then what good is it.

        Young people from minors to young adults are the most oppressed minority here and pretty much anywhere else. There’s an argument to be said that the more minor the individual is, the more certain oppression is tolerable; it’s a valid viewpoint, anyhow. But once they hit the age of majority there is no acceptable rationalization for absolutely any differential treatment by the state.

        If lawmakers had one shred of integrity or consistency to their rationale (or any beyond massaging populist crusades, vote-getting tunnel-vision platforms, lobbies, and Enlightened Ideas) perhaps society wouldn’t be Sisyphus perpetually pushing that boulder up the mountain only to have it tumble back down. Camus was right that it’s not only absurd, but the rock-pushers seem to enjoy themselves. I guess controlling one’s own offspring isn’t fulfilling enough for some.

  6. Who cares where the feds set the drinking age? It certainly seems that college kids don’t.

    Hell, once they banned drinking entirely. But people still drank if they wanted to.

    1. I cared when I got one of those citations, after I had already lived on my own for three years.

      Six month driver’s license suspension and a six hundred dollar fine

    2. If you’re talking about Prohibition, you’re mistaken. Prohibition only banned the manufacture, sale, or importation of alcoholic beverages. It didn’t ban their possession, consumption, or (not-for-compensation) distribution.

      1. So for 18-20 year olds, the law is now more strict than it was during Prohibition. Interesting.

  7. You libertards want to lower the drinking age to zero and let them text at the same time, while speeding! On public roads!

    1. +100

    2. You forgot about steering with your knees and snorting coke off the bare back of the hooker who’s…

      1. YOU forgot the easybake oven in the dashboard.

    3. I don’t know about the rest of us, but I think they should ban texting while driving and punish the offenders severely. Those idiots are a huge danger to the rest of us, as drunk drivers are. Drunk drivers, regardless of age, should be punished more harshly than now as well. But an 18 year old simply drinking a beer (or ten), and NOT driving afterward or being violent, is not endangering innocent people. So that should not be illegal.

      1. You’re assuming that making texting while driving illegal will make the problem go away tho. People don’t stop doing things just because they are illegal. They just do them more discreetly and dangerously.

        1. Texting while driving is already extremely dangerous–how much more dangerous can you make it? By that logic, then we should allow people to drive drunk as a skunk, right? Wrong.

          In fact, those who continue to drive drunk habitually probably take fewer risks on the road (both hands on the wheel, stay within the speed limit, take the back roads) so as not to arouse the attention of police–a direct result of banning the practice. They may assume they’re fine to drive, but they know the cops will see it differently. The same will be true with the habitual texters. And those who actually have more brains than Jell-o would likely get the message that texting while driving is unacceptable, like the majority of Americans view drunk driving.

          1. In fact, probably, likely. You may have a point, but it doesn’t mean that point is correct, much less that is just when all things are considered.

            The result of bad driving — drunk, texting, eating, tired (a completely overlooked, serious factor), or none of the above — should be the main focus of the law. And the law should take crashes caused by negligence or wanton disregard seriously. Making these poor habits aggravating factors is a more just compromise.

            The slippery slope with drunk driving laws has had a huge impact on civil liberties and society in general, just as all zero tolerance policies have (sex offender status, drug prohibition, etc).

            Road blocks, intrusive and flawed methods of testing, ridiculously low limits. Do you want that to apply to phones as well?

            Will one receive the severe penalty you push for if they, say, look at their phone? You’d have to, because you can’t prove how actively someone is using/texting on their phone. In fact, good luck proving that they weren’t instead talking on it. Or should that be treated the same? No matter, because it would be. The law would quickly expand if it were to be effective in actually prosecuting offends, expanding its definition of what is a crime while eroding liberties and expanding police power.

            Open container, empty container, etc. All things seemed “reasonable” to the general public; once the law is on the books, expanding it a bit to make it more effective seems so unobjectionable to everyone. Well, if you have an empty beer can in your console and you pass a breathalyzer, guess who is still breaking the open container law? Does it make sense? Of course not, because the web of laws intended to strengthen the underlying, initial crusaded law only seek to find violations, never to clear them.

            Expanding this approach, in this society, to something as basic as a cellphone is incredibly dangerous. And I fully sympathize with your annoyance of text-drivers, mine borders on hatred sometimes. The only clean solution is one: for society to get a grip on themselves around the matter (it’s still a relatively novel technology), which will happen in time and can accelerate with awareness; two: treat accidents that stem from a total disregard of a driver’s responsibility with more severity.

            1. “Will one receive the severe penalty you push for if they, say, look at their phone? You’d have to, because you can’t prove how actively someone is using/texting on their phone. In fact, good luck proving that they weren’t instead talking on it.”

              Actually, the phone companies currently keep a record/log of all phone calls and texts sent, and can pinpoint it down to the minute. That is particularly useful if a crash does occur, since the time is often noted on the accident report.

            2. You are right that drowsy driving is a serious but overlooked factor in numerous crashes, often fatal ones. New Jersey now makes it illegal to drive after being awake for 24+ hours straight. But good luck enforcing any kind of laws against drowsy driving.

    4. While scarfing down child-killing unregulated fast food burgers.

  8. went to the University of Wisconsin-Stout…

    Next week comes the second in the series from the University of Wisconsin-Pale Ale.

    1. Followed up by the University of California-Cabernet.

  9. You big sillies!

    If the drinking age was lowered to 18, kids might discover there ain’t all that much to it, move on and grow up. Then what would you have?

    Why, they’d be asking our lords and masters what happened to everybody’s money and freedom!

    No, no, far better to give them this artificial barrier, so they can outsmart it and feel satisfied. And thus government will be left to the governing class…

    1. Yeah, let’s artificially divide the 18-24 demographic. They’d be easier to dupe that way. Divide and conquer.


  10. Lips that touch alcohol will never touch mine.

    1. too?

  11. Like other prohibitions, making it illegal and edgy only makes it cooler than it is.

  12. I propose we raise the drinking age to 26. If “kids” at that age can’t reasonably be expected to handle their own health insurance needs, then they’re clearly not prepared to grapple with the evils of Demon Rum. We need to do it for the children.

    1. Hopefully that was sarcasm.

      1. Actually, I really kind of like that take. Because you can bet that all of the kiddies who put Obama into office would probably freak out if this was one of the consequences of their rabid, blind devotion.

        Unfortunately, that would be advocating more laws on top of already stupid laws. But I do like gleefully thinking about the hypothetical reactions to that notion… mmm… young adult angst is so sweet…

        1. +10

  13. Its pretty absurd isnt it? 18 your an adult, old enough to server your country, should be old enough to have a cold beer!


    1. Actually, you’re old enough to serve your country at 17, as long as you have parental consent.

    2. 18 your an adult, old enough to server your country, should be old enough to have a cold beer!

      Why not allow them to be elected to the House or Senate while we are at it?

    3. Do we have to drink when even the bot gets it ?

      1. I’ll second adding that rule to the game if its not already in there.

  14. I’d like them to leave the drinking age at 21 for personal reasons. It keeps the kids out of the bars. 18-year-olds ruin bars. Take it from a Texan who border-hopped when the drinking age enforcement in Louisiana was nonexistent. We ruined plenty of bars for the adults.

    Now if they lowered the drinking age to 18 and only allowed the 18-20 year-old girls with daddy issues into the bars, then maybe we can talk.

    1. Wes,

      How about if we let girls start drinking at 18 years old? Everyone knows they are more mature than boys. And I’d love to see lots more 18 year old gals in my local watering hole.

      The 18 year old boys? Meh. Not so much.

      1. As much as some older men would enjoy the relative “lack of competition” from younger men, that would actually be unconstitutional if it were codified in law. Oklahoma used to be like that until 1976, when it was struck down by the SCOTUS, lowering it to 18 for both genders. Unfortunately, in 1983 it was raised to 21 for everyone, and the rest is history.

        Once the drinking age were lowered, perhaps bars can choose to have nights where the age of admission differs by gender.

    2. That’s a rather ageist and sweeping generalization. Remember that you were 18 once. Besides, there will always be some bars that choose to be 21+ even if the legal drinking age was lowered. Puerto Rico has several such bars despite a legal drinking age of 18. So does Sweden, especially nightclubs, some even choose to be 30+.

      1. This would probably be illegal under current discrimination laws, though I think businesses should be free to refuse service to anybody they choose. Their loss, after all.

  15. I thought the most interesting idea in the video came when the Choose Responsibility guy said that having a binary system with no learning period was a little bit jarring.

    Do you think there should be a “learner’s permit” age when young people will be permitted to buy 3.2 beer but nothing stronger?

    1. In the 80’s before the ’21 for everyone’ virginia had a graduated system with different ages for beer& wine(19 IIRC), and hard liquor (21 again IIRC)

      1. Actually, it was 18 for beer/wine and 21 for liquor before 1981. From 1981-1983, it was still 18 on premise (bars and restaurants) and raised to 19 for buying in stores. In 1983 it was raised to 19 for both, and in 1985 it was raised to 21 across the board.

        Though I would prefer the drinking age to be 18 across the board, having it be 19 for off-premise store purchase and 18 otherwise (including drinking on or off premise) would not be a bad idea either. Opponents who are afraid of 18 year olds buying for their younger friends would no longer be able to use that argument.

        Alternatively, we could have it be 18 for everything except the purchase of large bulk quantities like kegs, cases, and handles of liquor, which would remain at 21. The fear of increased high school keggers (by definition) would then be moot.

    2. Thats how they do it in Europe… sort of. Hard liqure at 18, seckt at 16, beer at 14 (I think), and wine all your life.

      1. Yeah. 18 is too old for “training wheels” IMO.

        1. It is really quite insulting to suggest that an 18-20 year old would be unable to handle “normal” beer.

  16. 18-year-olds ruin bars.

    The reason 18-year-old Americans are so annoying is that we treat them like children. They’re not nearly so annoying in less-prohibitionist countries (Britain being an obvious exception…).

    1. I liked the “we ruined bars when we were 18 but i’ll be damned if 18’ers will ruin my bar now” angle.

    2. That’s a rather ageist and sweeping generalization. Remember that you were 18 once. Besides, there will always be some bars that choose to be 21+ even if the legal drinking age was lowered. Puerto Rico has several such bars despite a legal drinking age of 18. So does Sweden, especially nightclubs, some even choose to be 30+.

    3. I dunno, man, everything I’ve seen of how Britain treats teens makes me go bug-eyed. Like using sound-wave warfare on ’em. Just because the drinking ages are lower doesn’t mean Britain is anywhere near decent towards its youth — they just have other ways of criminalizing the act of living.

  17. When did MADD become concerned about human brain development?. I thought they were about stopping drunk driving. I guess they reveled their nanny mentality on that one.

    1. Anyone notice that no one refers to “Drunk Driving” anymore, it is now “Drinking and Driving”. It is as if you drink one sip, then drive 23 hours later when there is one milligram of alcohol in your body it is not OK.

      1. Which is basically the standard in the UAE for being guilty of “drink driving” as they say in the British Isles and her former colonies and protectorates.

        If a cop so much as gets a tiny whiff, even if you’ve metabolized all of it many hours previous, you’re fucked.

        1. I’ve been to the UAE. I’ve also been to over 40 other countries and 7 continents. The UAE has the worst drivers I’ve seen anywhere. Maybe a drink would do them good.

    2. Can I get an AMEN? Whose brain is it anyway?

  18. One of my aunts married a recovering drunk so my gramma has banned drinking at all family get togethers.

    I can’t tell you how much more fun drinking is now than it used to be. Sneaking out behind one of the barns with various cousins and uncles to sneak a beer, it’s like being back in high school! Awesome.

    1. gramma has banned drinking at all family get togethers

      What’s wrong with that? You libertards are all for personal responsibility and property rights, but then you make fun of Gramma and disobey her wishes, on her property!

      1. I could be wrong, but I think the point he was trying to make is that prohibiting drinking only makes it that much more fun and appealing. I know that was true when I was in high school as well.

  19. The day you turn 18, you should be officially deemed an adult. You can go to war, vote, get married, get health insurance, be able to rent a car, and have a beer.

    In that order.

  20. It is nice having the 21 drinking age, because then all of the E-5s and higher in the military have a cadre of designated drivers on hand.

    Do it to support America’s Troops!

    1. I say we ban all military from drinking. Those guys wouldn’t know a designated driver if they ran one over.

      1. Yeah, the military never presses drinking and driving! Those guys never have to hear about the dangers of drinking and driving on a daily basis, or sign safety briefings every week, or carry a wingman card (checked randomly), or go to base wide briefings about DUIs regularly, or be volun-told to participate in some weekend designated driver program, or get kicked out (other than honorable) if they do get a DUI. Psshh, not like those civilians who are more responsible and never get DUIs.

        1. That’s bullshit and you know it. The military might say it does a good job of educating, but anyone who has been in and around the military knows that it’s a cesspool of delerict behavior, especially drunk driving.

          1. Yeah, I just made all that up because I want your attention… You obviously don’t know a single person in the military. Funny thing is that you don’t even know the media has manipulated your perception.

            Scenario: Two DUI’s happen in one night, both have fatalities, one is military, one civilian. Which one sells more newspapers?

            1. You are absolutely correct MrGuy.

              /no sarcasm

        2. You must be in the Air Farce. In the Navy I was issued 2 cans of beer when underway for +65 days.

          1. The Air Force is extremely oppressive when it comes to drinking now a’days. I’ve pretty much given up drinking all together because of said oppression.

            If you do something minor with even a bit of alcohol in you or even near a place that sells alcohol, you pretty much get hammered…even if it’s not your fault.

            1. Well, that just stinks. And I always thought airmen must party hard since they don’t climb out of the rack until 1100. Not joking.. about the stinks part.

              Times have sure changed.In the 70s the military had huge discounts on alcohol on base. Yeah it was not good if you did something out of line. But you were given the chance to do something out of line before there was a problem. That was the Army anyways.Serving can be quite the sacrifice, I doubt I could have handled being treated like a child, or a problem before I was one.

              Mind if I ask your age?

              1. I’ll be 29 soon. As far as treating us like children, the magic number is 26. Seems to be that 26 and under is the age that they target for fiscal responsibility, sexual assault awareness, DUIs, and a long list of other things to adhere to. I have heard about how great the military used to be (across other branches as well) — guess I came in too late. Meh, the money, travel, and experience is good, and there’s 100% tuition assistance.

                1. Thanks, I thought you were older, but you stay with the program, and I don’t think non-military have a clue the level of maturity that requires. You have my respect for putting up with the level of nonsense you do. That and my father was US Army Air when it became USAF, I still pack his old footlocker around with me, when the change over occurred they just used a stencil and paint brush to put USAF over the old marking. The rest of us have been Army except my kid brother the hotshot surgeon he won a scholarship and he really isn’t the military type, dipshit is like a box of rocks. Once again you have my respect.

        3. Great point man – 10 years in, and it sounds like they havn’t changed as far as the briefings etc. – glad someone pointed it out…

  21. The drinking age was raised when I was about halfway through college and from my personal experience it created many more problems than it solved. Before the increase one would go out to a bar and have a few drinks in mixed company with adults and it was all very cool. There were very popular night spots where various groups of students would gather. Aside from parties at frat houses, few if any people drank anywhere else, certainly little drinking went on in the dorms. It was considered gauche I suppose.

    After the age was raised, private parties, drinking in the dorms, binge drinking and huge parties at the frat houses (which often got out of hand) became the norm. There was a transition period as we “grandfathered”, still-able-to-drink students moved up and out and then the bars started closing and the partying in homes and elsewhere became ever more intense. (I stayed in the same city and went on to grad school and saw this nonsense first hand)

    I completely agree with eliminating the drinking age, certainly for those over 18.

    1. I agree it should be eliminated completely, at least for at home. My family was still old world, I drank beer out of a tommy tippy cup when I was maybe two. We often had beer or wine with our meals, And I’ve never approved of drunkeness. It’s pathetic and immature regardless of age. My family is large, we all drink, never been an alcoholic in the family.

  22. Do you think there should be a “learner’s permit” age when young people will be permitted to buy 3.2 beer but nothing stronger?

    Just like Colorado, in the old days.
    This also is a good solution for the “damn obnoxious kids are spoiling my nice quiet bar” problem.

    1. I didn’t think we were that bad when I was 18. Of course back then it was considered justified if someone in a bar getting out of line got their lights punched out. People weren’t hauled off to jail for merely fighting. I can recall being told if I didn’t stop they’d arrest me. So I stopped, made us promise we start again as soon as they were gone, they told me to go back in the bar and my opponent to go to a different bar. Only fair since he admitted to sucker punching me over the pool game we had been playing.

      It was possible to respect the badge back then.

      1. *wouldn’t start

  23. They went to Stout? Talk about a skewed test sample.

  24. Pot-free? That was sarcasm, right?

  25. I find it ridiculous that an 18 year old can (without his parent’s consent) join the army, get married, rack up huge credit card bills, buy a gun and vote … but he can’t buy a beer.

    1. Or rent a car…

  26. 21 just seems so arbitrary. Is there any legitimate reason for 21?

    Obviously it’s stupid, but I want to know why they chose that age.

    1. Probably something to do with blackjack. Is it really worth your time to try to figure out a politicians assinine train of thought?

    2. The reason why is a bit convoluted. In 13th century England, the age of majority was raised from 15 to 21, equal to the age for becoming a knight. At that age, men were though to be strong enough to wear heavy armor while riding on horseback. That age of majority prevailed in the UK and the US (who was originally part of the UK) until around 1970, when both countries lowered it to 18 to match the draft age and the recently-lowered voting age. There was no drinking age in either country until the 20th century. The UK chose 18 while most (but not all) of the US chose 21 after 1933 simply to match the age of majority. When that was lowered, most states lowered the drinking age in the 1970s, though 12 of them remained 21. When MADD and others wanted the drinking age raised in the 1980s, they chose 21 since it was what most states had before the 1970s, and was the highest existing drinking age at the time. Under the influence of MADD, the feds then forced the states in 1984 to raise the drinking age to 21 so all states would be uniform.

      Thus, it has nothing to do with biology brain development or drunk driving.

      1. Thanks, and that is fucking ridiculous.

    3. Especially if all that scientific research that the MADD woman presented that shows that a persons brain isn’t developed until 25

      1. Have you seen MADD’s statistics for drinking and driving? If you read the fine print, you’ll see that they actually count drunk passengers being driven by sober drivers as DUIs!!!

  27. The main reason this won’t happen is MADD is an entrenched advocacy group, while most of those in favor of lowering the legal age lose interest when they turn 21.

  28. At 18 you’re old enough to vote in Obama, die for your country, have an abortion, and get married, but you can’t get drunk. What’s up with that?

    And why does the federal government have anything to say about it? If anything, it should be a state law? How long will it take before the states begin enacting preemptive laws based on the 10th amendment?

    1. Well, technically it is state law. State law that the feds strong-armed the states into passing by threatening to withhold transportation funds, but a state law nonetheless. If we got rid of the Federal Highway Administration, as it has outlived its usefulness, we would have drinking ages different in every state.

      1. Word. I remember when they strongarmed Louisiana.

        Buncha BS

  29. I remember when my binge drinking became legal when I turned 18. We no longer had to mess around with an ax trying to build a campfire out in the woods while shitfaced.

  30. The drinking age should be 19. That way it is still illegal for high schoolers but college kids are allowed.

  31. All this talk about whether or not 18-20 year olds drinking is positive or negative is missing the point.

    At 18 years old you’re taxed as an adult, you vote as an adult, you can be sentenced as an adult, you’re drafted as an adult, so you should be able to drink as an adult. Case closed.

    1. “Case closed.” Thanks for your all knowing wisdom JimH32.

  32. Or we could have a responsibility card that would allow those between 18 and 21 to drink. If you are in higher education full time, or are holding down a job, or are in the military you get a card that allows you to drink. If you are a layabout you don’t get the card and you can’t drink. And no, being a parent between the ages of 18 and 21 won’t get you a card either.

    I am being completely sarcastic.

  33. Hey – maybe we should RAISE it to 26 since our great and wonderful representatives feel we should have our ‘children’ on our insurance policies until then.

  34. What is the song at the start of the video?

  35. Sorry Jim,
    I know you said, “Case closed”, but I wanted to make another comment. I suppose this will do.

  36. Actually, if the age of staying on your parents insurance is raised to 26, the drinking age should be raised to delienate this parental liability, also. Raise the legal ages for everything to 27 since under Obama you aren’t a “real” adult who should take responsibility for yourself until then anyway. Yes, this idea is stupid; but so is staying on your parents insurance when you should be on your own.

    1. Perhaps if insurance wasn’t so ridiculously expensive, 18-25 year olds would be able to get their own even if their employers couldn’t afford it. The alternative is millions more people uninsured. This is not about adulthood, it is about economics.

      1. I meant “even if their employers did not provide it”

  37. Let’s raise the drinking age to 71. It’s the only way to keep it out of our schools.

  38. MADD sounds like a group of nosy moms who feel like it’s their job to be in everybody’s business but fail miserably in having a proper conversation with their own kids about drunk driving. How about this: educate your own damn kids and stop blaming others. I have been in numerous countries where the legal drinking age is well below 21 but they still have less drunk driving incidents than the US.

  39. Of course – 18, because anything above that is state paternalism. On the top of it, I would suggest 15-17 olds be allowed to drink in presence of parents, thus learning how to become responsible drinkers for the rest of their lives.

  40. Old enough to die fighting for your country, old enough to drink.

  41. Funny, last time I was in Japan (1994) anyone who wanted to could buy alcoholic beverages from vending machines. I’ve talked to lots of Europeans who were introduced to alcohol as children. They don’t seem to have the problems that the U.S. does. (Different problems, yes, but not this one.)

    But this is part of a general problem – the tendency of Americans to treat young adults like toddlers.

    A century ago, even 10 year olds could find gainful employment – and no, most of the jobs were NOT especially dangerous – but they competed against adults, so we got protectionist laws. The results have not been pretty.

  42. Correction! Japan’s national drinking age is 21… 🙂

    1. Correction again, its actually 20. Do your research next time. And just because it is 20, you can still get it in the vending machines.

  43. I just think it’s irresponsible for someone UNDER 18 to be able to sign up for the army and “die for their country,” but they can’t even have a drink.
    If they’re not responsible enough, don’t let them enlist. Don’t let them smoke. Don’t let them buy porn.

  44. Perhaps in order for people to mature about alcohol use, they to be exposed to it and how it effects them and people around them. If you think about it most people who are 21 and are what people are calling “Mature Adults” have already had an experience with alcohol or, if they did wait to drink until 21, have had experience with people who drink. people will drink no matter what happens, just look at prohibition, and M.A.D.D. did its job by getting less people drunk behind the wheel. We as a nation are evolving and have to adapt to new problems and solutions. perhaps it is time to lower the drinking age down to 18 or 19.

    P.s. I believe it should be 19 as it would allow less access to alcohol within high school (which is what I believe people are afraid of, I could be wrong) and still allow college students to experience alcohol

  45. I finding it amusing and a bit curious that this story found a home at UW-Stout, where I learned how to binge drink back when the drinking age was still 18. Most of my binge drinking was at private parties, my responsible drinking in bars.

    But how the heck did you choose UW-Stout, out of all the drinking schools in the country?

  46. Having personally been the victim of drunk drivers TWICE ( three times if you count the aunt killed by a drunk driver).
    I advocate a European approach to drinking ages and harsh penalties for drinking drivers who cause property damage and injury or death as a result of their inebriation. In addition I would like to hold the alcohol production and sales industries collectively responsible for the indemnification of losses caused by public intoxication.
    I personally am permanently disabled due to the actions of a drunk driver and trapped in the California workers comp. system as a consequence. Trapped in a system where the insurance companies refuse to provide mandated care and state law makes it illegal for me to pay for that care from my already depleted savings.
    By holding the liquor industry collectively responsible for the damages caused by the overuse of their products (to their immense profits) the reduction of drunks on the highway would be in the financial best interest of producers, distributors, and sellers of all forms of alcoholic beverages.
    Till we get serious about enforcement, coupled with rational statutory reforms that teach responsibility from an early age the problems will continue.

  47. Most states in the nation adopted a minimum drinking age of 21 soon after federal passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which required states to maintain a minimum drinking age of 21. Under the Federal Aid Highway Act, States were required to enforce the minimum drinking age of 18 in order to avoid a 10% reduction in federal highway funds. The original intention of the law was to reduce the incidents of alcohol-related accidents among people under 21. But since passage of this legislation, and the raising of the drinking age in many states, the percentage of people who drink between the ages of 18 to 20 has skyrocketed. Many say the prohibitions have actually encouraged secretive binge drinking, more dangerous behavior, and less educational programming targeting this age group. Respected law enforcement officials and university presidents have recently called for changes in the federal law to permit states to lower the drinking age.

    At age 18, people are legal adults. As much as their parents may think otherwise, they are no longer children. They have the right to vote and help choose the President of the United States. They can go to war to defend our country, and they can legally purchase guns and cigarettes. It is absolutely absurd that they cannot have a beer or glass of wine without fear of possible arrest and prosecution.

    It’s time for the nation to repeal these Prohibition-era laws and adopt a more intelligent, progressive, and educational approach to drinking among younger adults. These laws simply don’t work, they aren’t enforceable any longer, and if anything they are counterproductive. Literally millions of responsible young adults are already consuming alcohol and that’s not going to change. What we need to do is stop wasting the taxpayers money chasing, charging and prosecuting responsible young adults who want to have a beer, and start putting the money where it ought to be, in promoting smart education about responsible drinking, and in pursuing far more serious criminals, including those at all ages who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

    Eric Paine
    President & Founder
    Drink At 18

  48. The human brain continues to change and “develop” throughout a person’s life. Brain development doesn’t come to a screeching halt on one’s 21st birthday. The research on rats shows that their brains don’t “mature” until age 25-30 (converted to human years). Using MADD’s logic, the drinking age should be at least 25, or maybe even 30. I wonder why they aren’t calling for that?

    P.S. I once e-mailed them with the question “why do you not advocate a higher drinking age?”. They ducked the question, so I asked again. I never heard back.

  49. Also, isn’t it interesting how closely MADD’s “solution” to underage drinking parallels the cries of the public schools and the teachers’ unions about constantly needing more funding?

    This woman basically said that “more enforcement” is all that is needed to prevent underage drinking. The drinking age sounds like it is enforced pretty vigorously at this college. In practical terms, “enforcement” means time and MONEY – that’s police officers’ time and TAXPAYERS’ money. Hello to even more tax hikes!

    Teachers’ unions have only one answer to the poor performance of the public schools – more funding! (taxes again)
    MADD and its ilk have only one answer to underage drinking – more enforcement!

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  52. My reason for wanting the age lowered is a little different.

    Before the age was raised, there were roadhouses where you could get a beer and listen to some music everywhere. These roadhouses provided the opportunity for musicians to hone their craft in front of an audience. This was the place where you got good, not in your bedroom in your mama’s house.

    When the drinking age was raised to 21, these roadhouses went out of business as their clientele dried up.

    I think there’s a direct correlation to the low quality and lack of originality in today’s music, and the lack of places for musicians to play in front of people. If the drinking age is lowered, roadhouses can thrive, and original music can again flourish.

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