Should the National Drinking Age be 18?

on 15/04/11 at 3:31 pm

Booze News

Is it high time to reduce the drinking age to 18 nationwide?

Tennessee law professor and Instapunditer Glenn Harlan Reynolds thinks so. Writing in Wednesday’s WSJ, he throws his support behind an Alaska State Representative’s efforts to establish a drinking age of 18 for active-duty service members. The rationale is straightforward: “If you get shot at, you can have a shot.”

Thing is, such a move would arguably run afoul of a federal law passed in 1984 that makes contingent federal-to-state highway funding on states keeping their drinking age at 21.

So Reynolds advocates Congress repealing the law, called the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act. He writes:

The “old enough to fight, old enough to drink” argument has force. In fact, 18-year-olds in America are old enough to do pretty much everything except drink. Along with joining the military, 18-year-olds can vote, marry, sign contracts, and even take on a crippling lifetime burden of student loan debt in pursuit of an education that may never land them a job. Yet we face the absurd phenomenon of colleges encouraging students to go into six-figure debt—which can’t be discharged in bankruptcy—but forbidding them to drink on campus because they’re deemed insufficiently mature to appreciate the risks.

The counter-argument, Reynolds notes, mostly concerns safety.

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