In 2006, presidents of the nation’s most prestigious colleges proposed lowering the drinking age to 18 to cut down on binge drinking.  The effort was shouted down within a month.

11/3/2006

The presidents of 100 top colleges are starting a campaign to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18, the Associated Press reported Aug 19.  They say it will reduce binge drinking, which is a major issue on college campuses.  Binge drinking is more exciting to students when it is illegal, they say.

The group Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) are unalterably against this.  They say that parents who care about their children’s safety should not send them to any school that participates in this campaign.  They argue that these presidents have given up trying to enforce safe drinking policies.

If 18-year-olds can buy alcohol, 16-year-olds can get it, and drive their cars.  They destroy other people, not just themselves.  New Hampshire raised its drinking age to 21 years ago partly because too many high school kids were involved in fatal auto accidents.

Illegality does not cause binge drinking.  College students do it because everybody else does. Kids that age think they’ll live forever.  The consequences they see only happen to other people.

The idea that colleges must act in loco parentis (in place of a parent) was old-fashioned 40 years ago. It should only be invoked in matters of life and death – like this one.  Even if students are going to drink at 18 anyway, the state and college should not say it’s OK, or abandon its responsibility to the safety of its students and community.

Why we raised the age

11/14/2006

It sounds like Jen Bueddeman (Concord Monitor letters, Nov. 10) is too young to remember when New Hampshire’s drinking age was 18, and why we raised it. Too many 16-year-olds were dying in cars after their 18-year-old friends bought them a six-pack or two.

If 18-year-olds can buy it, 16-year-olds can get it. A 16- or 18-year-old’s judgment, impulse control, and driving ability don’t match  a 21-year-old’s.

When I was in high school in Baltimore, too many kids my age died trying to get home after drinking beer legally in Washington, D.C., 40 miles away, where the drinking age for beer was 18. Some of those kids were 16-year-olds driving in an older friend’s car, and others just had fake IDs or looked old for their age.

We don’t need laws to regulate responsible, law-abiding people. We pass laws to control people who can’t or won’t control themselves, and to protect innocent people from them.

I’d rather stop a responsible 18-year-old from buying beer than arrest an irresponsible one for vehicular homicide. It’s not fair to the responsible kid, but I can live with that, knowing that the irresponsible kid might kill himself, me, or someone I love on the highway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *