November 5, 2013

While there were a number of points to refute in Robert McCartney’s Nov. 3 Metro column, “Drinking-age laws, ‘Beach Week’ faux pas and cultural hypocrisy,” let me focus on two:

First, when Mr. McCartney penned that parents and others “cooperate to minimize potential harm by ensuring that nobody drives drunk,” he minimized the fact that youth who drink alcohol participate in other risky behaviors that can lead to substantial harm, such as violent crime, property crime, unintentional injury and unprotected sex.

Second, in response to Mr. McCartney’s challenge that “people who defend the law [setting the legal drinking age at 21] have a responsibility” to put forth its benefits and enforceability via a “full airing,” I’d point to the following:

●The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that the current minimum drinking age laws saved an estimated 28,765 lives from 1975 to 2011.

●Ironically, in the same Metro section that featured Mr. McCartney’s column, Arlington’s Meredith Wadman gave a heartfelt account [“ ‘Kids will be kids’? Then parents must be parents,” Local Opinions] of her 17-year-old brother succumbing to a “fractured skull and pelvis, a ruptured bladder and a right cheek lacerated with glass fragments” in a traffic crash related to underage drinking. 

Kurt Gregory Erickson, Vienna

The writer is president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.