How Old Is Old Enough for Alcohol?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

As a parent of two young adults in their mid-20s, I applaud the wisdom and courage of the Amethyst Initiative's proponents in speaking out about the danger and absurdity of the current drinking age of 21 ["Lower Drinking Age Is Criticized," front page, Aug. 21].

This law drives underage drinkers underground, creates the "forbidden fruit" phenomenon that resonates so well with youths and pushes young people to gather to drink unsupervised.

Drinking alcohol is legal for adults in this country. At 18, our young people risk their lives in military service, vote for president and can be prosecuted as adults. Yet we do not trust them to buy a beer and drink it responsibly.

By pretending that people under 21 do not drink alcohol, we have created a generation of scofflaws and alcohol abusers. We should teach young people the respectful, safe and socially appropriate way to enjoy alcohol in moderation.

Laws on driving under the influence should be harsh and vigorously enforced so that all adults respect the need for a designated driver when alcohol is being consumed, but the drinking age should be returned to 18.




One aspect of the lower-drinking-age proposal that needs more attention is the impact on highway safety.

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