How to change the legal drinking age

I’ve been considering ways to change the legal drinking age.

My reasons for this are as follows: every source I’ve read, plus personal experience, suggests that drinking is essentially a social skill, which ought usually to be taught from a young age. Parents need to supervise their children, introduce them to alchohol, and teach responsible drinking habits. In most cultures, parents can and do show by example how to drink properly. Mine certainly did.

But I also think it is ridiculous that parents can’t legally introduce their children to alchohol. I’m not saying I want parents drugging their kids with booze. I want parents to be able to introduce their children to alchohol without even the shadow of fear of the law, which is counterproductive.

Lastly, while I can think of numerous reason not to leet teens grab booze anywhere they want, I think they need to perhaps be able to order 1 beer, perhaps under adult supervision. With this, I think the full drinking age could be lowered to 18. True, teens are often not mature enough to make good decisions yet, but they should be able to handle it with good examples. It’s not as if they don’t get alchohol anyway - but when they get it on their own they tend to binge. And of course this teaches exactly the wrong ideas.

This creates a problem, though. Changing laws is hard. How can this be changed. I see big opposition in the form of MAD, which is a really crazy organizaiotn these days, but I don’t think many of the Baptists would actually object. How can it be done?

In my state, there’s a already a law on the books like the one you propose. It’s a defense to the misdemeanor of furninshing alcohol to a minor that the person doing the furnishing is the minor’s parent, spouse, legal guardian, or legal custodian, so long as the minor consumes the alcohol in that person’s presence. Here, the taboo against allowing minors to drink alcohol is social and cultural rather than legal.

My parents used to let me have champagne on special occasions when I was a kid.

It’s easy. Just get your state to stop taking Federal highway funding. That’s what the 21 limit is pegged to. After you refuse the money you can set it as low as 18. Of course, your taxes will go way up to cover the monster shortfall, but everything has a price.

In Ohio it’s legal to give your child alcohol. You can’t buy at a public venue but it is OK at home.

Is there any evidence that shows that an early introduction to alcohol reduces any of the various ill consequences of teenage drunkeness?

If I’m reading the OP’s thesis correctly, it is an argument that it reduces the ill consequences by reducing the frequency of occurrence of teenage drunnkenness.

From my personal experience, I’d say this is a big no. Ever been to England or other Northern European countries? Kids hang out in the city centers and get drunk and cause problems. Kind of a pain in the ass. I think it’s a cultural question. Now if you go to Spain or Southern Europe, you’ll see people drinking in moderation. But the truth is that it is sort of a taboo to be really drunk in these areas in general. The whole culture seems to base itself around moderation with regards to drinking. They happen to introduce their children to drinking wine at an earlier age, but I don’t think this is the cause of it.

Really, I think our problem in America is that drinking is considered something that is done, “to party” whereas in other countries it’s a normal everyday thing, but in moderation.

It’s legal in WI for a parent to give their kids alcohol - even in a bar.

Maybe that’s why we pay so damn much in state taxes.

True. I am assuming that making it a family practice will tend to train people in moderation. It’s also true that we’re seeing a rise in binge drinking at college. it is, of course, even harder to change culture than to change laws. but perhaps it is worthwhile to try?

The Consitutional age of adulthood is 18. Perhaps a Constiutional challenge? After all, could a law saying that women couldn’t drink or Amerinds couldn’t drink stand that test?

the vast majority of Europe has a drinking age of 16, kids are allowed to drink at home or even out with their parents, strangely these kids actually learn from their parents a few things about drinking alcohol…over here in the states we treat it just like abstinence only education, we just tell them not to do it.
who here thinks no kids down at the local high school have tried booze or sex?
who here thinks their own parents waited until 21/marriage to try booze or sex?
since the answer to both of those questions would be of course they tried booze and or sex what the frak makes people think telling kids “dont do it” is EVER going to work?
good luck with the law, I would love to see it happen but with the crazy right we have I dont see it anytime soon.

Deja vu! I remember when the drinking age WAS lowered to 18 in the US, from 21 before. They raised it back again because traffic accidents among 18-20-year-olds spiked dramatically. I’ll be surprised if they ever try that again.

Not just traffic accidents, but traffic fatalities went up significantly, IIRC. And since the increase in fatalities were also among victims of the drunk under 21 set, I’d be surprised if the idea to lower the age limit gets any traction.

Good evidence that lower drinking ages reduce the risk of alcohol abuse and alcoholism is still lacking, at least the last time I checked the literature.

On the other hand, good evidence that the higher age reduces fatalities does exist.

Yes, fatalities are what I had in mind, not just fender-benders. And the rate dropped again after the drinking age was raised again. Imagine that.

Is it illegal in all 50 states for a parent to serve their child alcohol? I think not. Anyway, changing the age one may purchase alcohol is a tough sell. What incentive does a politician have to lobby for a lower drinking age? Supporting a lower drinking age probably isn’t going to bring the candidate many additional votes and may end up costing him votes in the long run.

It’s the same reason prostitution is difficult to decriminalize.


And given that insurance companies have a higher rate for young drivers that lasts until 25 (if I recall correctly) based on actuarials, it seems like if we’d ever change the age limit, it would be to 25 rather than 15.

It seems that the main concern behind keeping a higher drinking age here in the US is drunk driving (as opposed to alcohol poisoning due to binge drinking, etc.). Is there any grounds to say that the problem lies not with the drinking age as it does the driving age?

IANA European, but as I understand it, the drinking age in many European countries is 16 and the age at which you can operate a motor vehicle is 18. This seems like a reasonable way to go about doing things. If people have drinking experience when they’re younger, they would tend to be more knowledgeable about the effects of drinking and more familiar with their limits. They would have two years to figure these things out before they’re allowed to drive a car.

Besides, in the same vein, it’s a whole lot easier to sneak a few beers out of your parents’ fridge and then go driving in your own car than it is to have a few legal drinks and then, with no previous driving experience, car, or keys to a car of your own, attempt to drive.

Not that I could ever see this idea catching on. No doubt the average US citizen sees a greater need for teenagers to be able to drive (to school or work) than to be allowed to drink. And I’m sure that any parent would rather have their kid banned from drinking than spend an extra two years ferrying them to the mall on demand.

I recall reading at some time or other that it is easier for a young person’s body to become addicted to alcohol than it is for a mature body. I have nothing current to back that up.

I do think that it is ridiculous that someone can serve her country in the military and not be allowed to buy a beer.

No doubt someone could file a charge of child abuse or contributing to the delinquincy of a minor. Something along those lines.