The Vermont Libertarian Party applauds the introduction of House Bill 139 that would lower the minimum age from 21 to 18 for the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages. The Party has long opposed the 21-year-old drinking age, because it neither works nor does it make sense.
The 21-year-old drinking age has not reduced alcohol use in practice. Since the drinking age was raised in thirty-one states over twenty years ago, there has been little if any impact on alcohol consumption in the 18-21 year old age group. According to national survey data, the percentage of drinkers in that group dropped only seven percentage points, from 77% to 70%, leaving over two-thirds of that group still using alcohol. Also, the insignificant 7% decline may be due to the reluctance of young people to admit to criminal drinking when polled or other factors such as stepped-up public campaigns to discourage alcohol use.
Furthermore, the 21-year old drinking age doesn?t make sense. In all other respects, society considered an 18-year old as an adult. At this age, the legal system treats him or her as such, and (if male) even requires him to register for military service. It?s illogical to consider someone of majority age in all respects except when it comes to the consumption of alcoholic beverages. This inconsistency sends a confusing mixed messages to young adults concerning the level of responsibility that society expects of them which may contribute to irresponsible use of alcohol.
Given the illogic and dubious effectiveness of the higher drinking age, it is irrational to continue to criminalize the use of alcohol by the vast a majority of our 18-21 year-olds. Our 18-21 year-olds are more likely to learn more responsible drinking behavior if they were allowed to consume alcohol openly, rather than in secret. Restoring the drinking age to 18 could end the diversion of law enforcement from serious crime investigation and prevention for the purpose of apprehending of underage drinkers.
According to Vermont Libertarian Party chair Scott Berkey, ?The Libertarian Party has always opposed governmental discrimination against any segment of the adult citizenry. Restrictions on the consumption of alcoholic beverages discriminate against the rights of many of our citizens, and are clearly of dubious value in reducing alcohol abuse. The Party urges passage of H.139 to bring much needed fairness and common sense to public policy.?
Vermont Libertarian Party
PO Box 5475, Burlington, VT 05402 | (802) 728-6211 | www.vtlp.org
Scott Berkey, Chair