These Three States Could Lower The Drinking Age To 18

By May Wilkerson 01/18/16

Either through legislation or ballot initiative, there's a movement to reverse the minimum drinking age.


The legal age to drink alcohol has been 21 in all U.S. states since 1984, when President Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act into law. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) claims the law has saved more than 25,000 lives. But critics say it doesn’t prevent underage drinking and actually makes the problem worse. And many millennials hate it for other obvious reasons. Now, lawmakers and citizens in New Hampshire, California, and Minnesota are proposing laws to lower their state’s drinking age.

Rep. Max Abramson of New Hampshire argues that lowering the U.S. drinking age, which is one of the highest in the world, could help reduce underage substance abuse. Last week, he introduced a bill that “would allow 18- to 20-year-olds to drink anywhere, as long as they were accompanied by someone over the age of 21.” The bill includes a caveat: beer and wine only, no hard liquor. “Every other western country has a drinking age of 19 or lower, and their teenage alcoholism rates are lower,” Abramson said last week.

California has a similar plan brewing. In the state, a local news source reports, “a proposed ballot initiative that would lower the minimum legal drinking age in the state from 21 to 18 has been cleared to begin collecting signatures.”

The measure was proposed by Terrance Lynn, who has until April 2016, to collect 365,880 signatures to get the measure on the ballot in time for the November election. On his website, Lynn says lowering the drinking age is a “civil rights issue.”

“This is about equal rights,” he said. “18-year-olds have nearly every burden and privilege of adults ... except the right to drink alcohol. This is a misguided aberration from 1984 that should be corrected.”

Rep. Phyllis Kahn of Minnesota proposed two bills last year to lower the drinking age in her state, which she says could help reduce rates of binge drinking among young people. One bill would reportedly “lower the drinking age in bars and restaurants to 18,” while the other would “allow underage people to drink in bars and restaurants if accompanied by a parent or guardian or spouse who is of legal age.” Said Kahn: “It’s a very good way to deal with the serious problem of binge drinking, particularly on college campuses.”

It remains to be seen if any of these bills will advance through their respective states’ legislatures. But if they do, people under 21 in your state could soon be ordering wine and beer with dinner so prepare accordingly.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.