Dig Baton Rouge

Louisiana Drinking Age: Up for debate

Recently, the legal drinking age for Louisiana was brought up. The discussion disappeared as quickly as it appeared, but we wanted to take a closer look at the debate. Check out these two opinion pieces and tell us which side you choose.

YES

Louisiana, if you are going to lower the drinking age, just lower it to 18.
By Matthew Bennett

Louisiana should lower the drinking age to 18. Regardless of your stance on the issue, I think we can all agree, fifty-cent shot night at Reggie’s in Tigerland proves sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen and twenty-year-olds drink copious amounts of Kyle’s Killer Lemonade. After all, back in June of 2017, it only took three weeks of brilliant detective work, courtesy of the Baton Rouge Police Department’s Juvenile Underage Drinking Enforcement team, to figure out what everyone with a heartbeat already knew—Reggie’s likes them young.

However, let’s not punish responsible drinkers just because a few 5 foot 9, 155 pound adolescents think they become Connor McGregor after a few Natty Lights.

State Senator Eric LaFleur recently introduced a bill that would have allowed 19 and 20-year-olds to legally purchase and drink alcohol. However, in true Dumb and Dumber fashion, the law would mandate that minors must earn a “Louisiana Alcohol Consumption Certificate,” first. Because, after all, nobody knows education, particularly how to teach it, quite like Louisiana law makers.

Take Baton Rouge’s current Mayor, Sharon Weston-Broome, for example. During her tenure as a State Representative, Broome once authored a bill which stated, “Adolf Hitler and others have exploited the racist views of Darwin,” and that the Legislature of Louisiana, “does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others, and does hereby condemn the extent to which these philosophies have been used to justify and approve racist practices.”

Perhaps Senator LaFleur, Mayor Broome, and the geniuses over at the ATF could all get together over some drinks and write the curriculum for the course, which upon completion would award 19 and 20-year-old recipients their “Louisiana Alchohol Consumption Certificate.” Maybe parents could take pictures with their children holding their hard earned certificate too and hug them with a bottle of Korbel in hand.

Nineteen and 20-year-olds would pay about as much attention in that class as they did in Drivers Ed. They would gain about as much knowledge regarding responsible alcohol consumption as Mayor Broome learned about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

If politicians can send 18-year olds to war, let the young adults buy a damn case of Miller High Life, legally, without needing a “Louisiana Alcohol Consumption Certificate.” Unless the certificate comes with a case of the Champagne of Beers, forget about it.

NO

On this road again?
By Russell Jones

Allowing people to drink at a younger age will lead to more deaths on the highway.

That was the rationale for Congress to pass the National Minimum Drinking Age Act into law back in 1984, and there remains enough evidence today to argue that it should not be changed.

Back in the 1970s, many states lowered their drinking age limits after the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18. Federal officials said soon after, states also reported an increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths for young drivers.

By 1982, the year the federal government started tracking such deaths, alcohol was a factor in more than half of all deaths on the road. More than 30 years later, that number has been cut down by tens of thousands of deaths each year according to the National Traffic Safety Administration. A 2000 review of minimum drinking age laws in the U. S., Canada, and Australia also found that shifting the drinking age back down to 18 could result in a 10 to 16 percent increase in alcohol-related traffic death rates, erasing a decades’ worth of work.

The numbers are clear: a significant number of people are not dying on the roads due to alcohol anymore. Why would we remove one major piece of the puzzle that is figuring out how to make roads safer for everyone?

In 2008 a group of university professors formed the Amethyst Initiative to propose lowering the minimum drinking age. Their argument was outlawing alcohol purchases and consumption created “a culture of dangerous, clandestine ‘binge-drinking’” among students, and lowering the age of purchase to 18 would combat the allure of alcohol as a forbidden fruit. Others argue that exposing people to alcohol at a younger age allows them to be more experienced and informed when they are ready to get behind the wheel.

In most states, however, you already can have alcohol before you turn 21. Legally. Under supervision.

Drinking age exemptions are in place in 31 states, including Louisiana. Most of those allow for people between the age of 18-20 to have alcohol when in the presence of a parent, guardian, or teacher. Some remove the age barrier altogether under those circumstances. Nothing is stopping that exposure from happening now in most of the U. S.

Finding the precise road to take in order to save lives and make highways safer is a big task with lots of factors. Letting younger people buy and consume alcohol unsupervised is not the right way to go about doing that work.

 

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