21's a Bust? Seven States Debate Lowering Drinking Age

Is 21 a bust when it comes to drinking?
Lawmakers in seven states are actively considering legislation that would lower the legal drinking age.
Military Rights or Drinking Age Bill?
State pols in Kentucky, Wisconsin and South Carolina have introduced legislation that would lower the drinking age only for military personnel, while Missouri, South Dakota, Vermont and Minnesota are considering more expansive measures that would lower the drinking age for the general population.
"These people set themselves apart," said Rep. David Floyd of Kentucky, who supports the state lowering the drinking age to 18, and believes the responsibility that enlistees assume with military service demonstrates their ability to make mature decisions when it comes to alcohol.
Floyd looks at his efforts to lower Kentucky's drinking age as more of a military bill than a drinking bill, and would be opposed to expanding the bill to include nonmilitary personnel. Highway Funds Risked
Legislators, like Floyd, who are proponents of legally lowering the drinking age, are putting their state's highway funds at risk.
Each state contemplating lowering the drinking age could stand to lose up to 10 percent of its federal road money. In 1984, Congress passed the Uniform Drinking Age Act, which was designed to reduce car accident deaths among young people by setting the minimum drinking age at 21 and threatening states with the loss of federal highway funds if they did not comply.
Since the '80s, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and why21.org have cited research for their continued support of 21 as the legal drinking age.
According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol-related traffic deaths have decreased across the board with the greatest proportional declines among people 16 to 20 years old.
NIH studies also revealed that teenagers who began drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence during their lifetimes than those who started drinking at age 21 or later.

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