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Can 18-year-olds handle their liquor?
Posted Sept. 26, 2008
Richard Lugo
Sports Editor

When I turned 21 years old, I was not enthusiastic about the fact that I was capable of buying alcohol. I did not follow the trend of my peers who flocked to Las Vegas to see how much alcohol they could consume before giving way to that feeling of uncontrollable sickness. I did not run to a bar and pound shots nor did I go to a liquor store to experience the overrated glory of submitting a valid ID that would have enabled me to buy beer.

Maybe, as you are reading this, you are recollecting when you turned 21 and how much your experience coincides or contradicts with mine. Or possibly you are counting the months, days and hours until you reach that day.

Regardless of which applies, ask yourself this: If California changed the minimum age to legally purchase and consume alcohol so that you only had to be 18, how would it affect you?

What if University of La Verne President Stephen Morgan signed on to the Amethyst Initiative petition that lobbies for 18 year-olds to legally buy alcohol? Would you drink more? If so, what would you drink? According to a study undertaken by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, teens are more likely to drink hard liquor while adults prefer to binge on beer.

The thought of allowing 18 year-olds access to buy and consume alcohol is currently being debated in many states. “Choose Responsibility” is the movement that is aiming at lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 years old.

John McCardell, the founder and director of this movement, has started the Amethyst Initiative, which is petitioning the government to openly discuss lowering the drinking age from 21. The goal of this initiative is to lessen the dangerous binge drinking that many college and university presidents feel is rampant among underage students.

The Sept. 15/Sept. 22, 2008, issue of U.S. News & World Report reports that “nearly 130 college and university presidents have signed on to the Amethyst Initiative.”

I do not think this is the answer to cure underage binge drinking and neither does Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Many organizations have joined together to form the Support 21 Coalition that states, “We believe in basing public health policy on sound medical research and are committed to highlighting the lifesaving impact of the 21 drinking age.”

McCardell and his supporters are pointing to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s Web site that states “of the 5,000 Americans under the age of 21 who die of alcohol-related causes each year, only 1,900 are traffic fatalities, meaning the remaining 3,100 occur off the highways.”

Let’s assume this is true: do the people who signed the Amethyst Initiative think the number of alcohol-related deaths is going to decrease?

For those of you who might be thinking, ‘Yeah, well you’re over 21, and this law wouldn’t have any affect on you,’’ you are mistaken. If affects me and anyone else who would feel less safe with the possibility of 18, 19 and 20 year olds driving drunk. There is a good reason why minors pay more for car insurance. The odds of a minor driving recklessly and getting into an accident is higher than a driver in their early 20s. Is now a good time to increase those odds?

Richard Lugo, a senior communications major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at richard.lugo@laverne.edu.