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The Aftermath of 1984 (Results of the U.S.'s National Minimum Drinking Age Act)

By MindMesh in MLP
Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 08:21:42 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

"How could keeping people from drinking until the age of 21 stop so many fatal accidents for people over 21? It probably didn't. After the nation's drinking age was raised to 21, the 21-24 age group quickly assumed the greatest share of alcohol-related fatal accidents. In The Scapegoat Generation (p.210), author Mike Males presents his findings that the first year or two after a person can legally drink alcohol - regardless of what age is chosen - is the period in which that person is most likely to be involved in an alcohol-related accident."

Another quote from the article:

"Dr. William DeJong, an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health, was recently quoted in *Advances: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Quarterly Newsletter* (issue 1, 1999) as saying:

Just about everyone in the substance abuse field says the nature of drinking has changed over the past 15 years or so. Teens ... are doing what we call industrial-strength binging. They use all kinds of apparatus - funnels, beer bongs, pumps. There's an intensity to it that you seldom saw years ago.

These comments should surprise no one who understands human nature! Fifteen years before the above statement was made, there was no National Minimum Drinking Age. Prior to that, alcohol use by high school students - within limits - was looked upon as a normal form of experimentation and a mild exercise in rebellion. Drinking by 18-20 year olds was a legal, acceptable part of their adult lives, something they were expected to learn to do responsibly. But since the mid-1980s, people under 21 have been considered so incapable of handling alcohol that they are no longer even permitted to touch sealed containers of beer or wine on their jobs. Any drinking by anyone under 21 has come to be considered criminal behavior. When one is labeled "irresponsible", when one engages in behavior that is considered "criminal", the concept of moderation ceases to have much meaning."

The Aftermath of 1984


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Have you ever broken a law related to alcohol?
o Yes 45%
o No 22%
o The laws I broke were illegal laws 13%
o They're making everyone criminals! 11%
o Damn Kids 6%

Votes: 193
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o The Aftermath of 1984
o Also by MindMesh

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The Aftermath of 1984 (Results of the U.S.'s National Minimum Drinking Age Act) | 56 comments (26 topical, 30 editorial, 2 hidden)
Statistics (5.00 / 4) (#19)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 10:36:01 PM EST

After the nation's drinking age was raised to 21, the 21-24 age group quickly assumed the greatest share of alcohol-related fatal accidents.
I assume that you feel that this invalidates the law, but I'm curious whether or not the number of such accidents changed.

I'm remnded of the figures that "<insert horror here> is the leading cause of death among teenagers", which ignore the fact that, by definition, something will always be the leading cause of death among whatever group.

Hypothetically speaking, if drinkers aged 18-21 used to cause 95 out of 100 accidents, those 21-24 caused 4 out of 100, and over 24 the remainder, then we could go from 100 accidents to 5 and still produce exactly the situation you describe, with the "21-24 age group quickly assuming the greatest share".

Drinking isn't the problem, driving is (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by jglassco on Wed Apr 18, 2001 at 10:54:49 PM EST

The real problem is that the driving age is not raised. You ought to be 21 to get a license to drive and be able to go into a pub at 17. Getting kids out of cars and into public transport is the quickest way to expand the demand for good, reliable, fast and economic public transport. Driving isn't fun anymore. The highways are crowded and dangerous and parking is always a problem. Youngsters driving exacerbates this problem. They can't even control their own bodies so how can you expect them to control a car?
Save the world, kill Microsoft!

Public Transit (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by Unless on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 12:33:49 AM EST

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in an area with a good public transportation system. I am, but I have friends who live out in the country with NO public transit whatsoever. And when the grocery store is a half hour DRIVE away, you don't want to think about walking it. On top of that, the biggest town in their immediate area has perhaps a couple thousand people in it; not really public transit territory, eh?

Oh, and some of us can control our bodies quite well, thank you ;->

[ Parent ]
No Solution (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by Pedro Picasso on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 08:35:57 AM EST

I agree, that it would be nice to raise the legal driving age for a lot of people, but it's not a solution. In my area, we need cars in order to get anywhere as public transportation is laughable at best. I tried it. I really did, but it's just not an option here.

Also, people are counting on their teenagers to drive. Teenagers work in our stores, and drive their younger siblings around when the parents are at work. A lot of families depend on this, so it would be a great disservice to outlaw it.

I suggest buying those darned youngsters remote controls. That way, even if they can't control their own bodies, they can control eachother's.
-the Pedro Picasso

Cult of the Flaky Hardware
[ (sourceCode == freeSpeech) | kakkune.com ]
[ Parent ]

population centers (1.00 / 1) (#28)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 01:28:25 PM EST

Actually, this would work quite well where you have public transportation. I would just not worry about the places where you do not have public transportation since there will be fewer people so they will still consider driving to be fun and get themselves killed anyway.

Actually, many cities with public transport should start demanding a "driving tax." It would solve many problems (including DUIs) if people needed to pay $100 per month to drive in Atlanta / Boston / Washinton and more for LA and NYC.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
driving tax exists (none / 0) (#48)
by barooo on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 12:38:14 PM EST

It's not officially a driving tax, but most cities do have costs for having a car. I live in chicago. You have to buy a registration sticker for your car every year. I think it's $60, but I didn't have one for a while and got nailed with a $60 ticket for not having it, then when I went to buy it I was told that since I was buying it late, I was being assessed a late fee of $60 bucks. So, that's $180 right there. And I'll have to get another one in June. I believe it's going up this year too, but I could be wrong.

Then there's the other costs... Parking is a bitch, it's easy to get a ticket, gas is ridiculous, insurance is even more so. Some congested neighborhoods like lincoln park also require parking registration... The city sticker alone doesn't entitle you to park there, and it's like a $100 ticket if you don't have a parking zone sticker.

I would get rid of my car since I take the el to work, but my dad lives 5 hours away, and I visit home once a month or so. Plus, it's a major convenience when you want to run to target or best buy and get something too heavy to carry. Fortunately the el and buses are halfway decent in the city. For a year and a half I lived in the city and commuted to the west suburbs (20 miles, or about an hour in traffic). My job was nowhere near the metra station so I had to have a car. The suburbs are downright hostile to pedestrians... No sidewalks, no way to cross most big streets.

I can sympathize with the city... If they don't make it an utter pain to have a car then traffic and congestion will be even worse than they are now.

One more drink, and I'll move on
"Grace is Gone", Dave Matthews Band

[ Parent ]
So... (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by CrayDrygu on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 03:49:27 PM EST

So you're telling me that I, a 19-year-old employed as the network administrator for my town (a full-time, salary-based job, with a three-year contract), should have to rely on the (virtually non-existant) public transportation and my (fortunately generous) co-workers when I need to fix the computers in the offices across town? Or when I need to buy new socks?

I'll drive, thanks.

[ Parent ]
Picking on the powerless (4.50 / 2) (#44)
by swr on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 11:29:38 PM EST

You ought to be 21 to get a license to drive and be able to go into a pub at 17. Getting kids out of cars and into public transport is the quickest way to expand the demand for good, reliable, fast and economic public transport.

Except lowering the drinking age is about as politically viable as ending the war on drugs. The religious right would never allow it.

Raising the minimum driving age could happen quite easily. Here in B.C., Canada we instituted a "graduated licencing" program a few years ago. New drivers - the overwhelming majority of which are teenagers, of course - have a number of new restrictions. 0.0 blood-alcohol level, no driving after midnight, must have a "L" on the back of the car. This goes on for six months, at which time they can take a road test to get the "N" sign for the back of their car and all of the other restrictions are lifted. The "N" requirement lasts for 18 or 24 months (I can't remember if it's two years from getting the L or the N) after which time they take another road test to get their regular license.

I was lucky enough to be born early enough to avoid this, even though I didn't bother getting my license until my early 20s (good thing I passed the road test or I would've had to start over under the new system). But, having a much younger sister, I have seen the effect it has had. The police frequently (frequently in some areas, at least) single-out the marked cars for pulling over and the occasional warantless search. And 0.0 BA level is pretty strict - cough medicine, or even mouthwash, could cause a teen to lose their licence (I haven't heard of such a case, but I doubt it would make the news). Given that after six months on the road a person's driving is not obviously different from that of a seasoned driver[*], the only reason I can see for the N signs is to make teenagers more easily identified by police.

It seems to me, "those darn" "kids these days" are being scapegoated by the politicians looking for an easy way to get votes. They can get away with it because kids don't have a political voice. Raising the minimum driving age might cause kids to demand better public transit, but I doubt that would make any difference.

[*] Statisticly the first 12 months are the most dangerous, but I think after just a few months the "erratic period" has ended. Of the real lunatics I've seen on the road, the ones that I felt necessary to give lots of extra space to, the overwhelming majority have not had any N or L on their vehicle.

[ Parent ]
minimum age (1.00 / 2) (#22)
by Friendless on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 12:54:09 AM EST

Let's just make a minimum age for being allowed to be stupid, and set it at 100. That way nobody will drink drive and nobody will pass laws like this. The craziest effect of this law that I have noticed is that because waiting staff are often young, they are really bad at taking drink orders. I have been in restaurants with attached bars, where just to find out what beers were available you had to go take a look yourself.

Drinking apparatus in 1984-1988 (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by georgeha on Thu Apr 19, 2001 at 08:47:37 AM EST

There was plenty of drinking apparatus around when I was in my prime alcohol abusing years, from 1984-1988. Maybe it was the fact that I went to a major binge drinking university (Penn State) but funnels/beer bongs and drinking games were very common, as well as such dangerous practices as funneling a pint of beer with a peanut in it, and catching the peanut in your teeth.

I did get screwed by the slowly raising drinking age, being legal one summer at 19, then being illegal again (funky NYS).

Nowadays, I have even more drinking/beer apparatus, but that's because I have a tap, and I home brew.


In many countries... (4.80 / 5) (#36)
by scruffyMark on Fri Apr 20, 2001 at 01:25:06 AM EST

..., particularly in Europe, the ages are reversed - about 16 or 17 to drink, 19 or 20 to drive. While the precise numbers vary from one place to another, the effect is the same - kids get their binge drinking out of the way, and learn to drink responsibly before they start driving.

And so it should be. People shouldn't be driving when they first start to drink alcohol. If people insist that the driving age must remain 16 then so be it - make the drinking age 14.

try to live without a car in the U.S. (4.33 / 3) (#42)
by mami on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 09:00:14 PM EST

The normal solution would be to allow driving a car only eighteen or over and leave drinking age much lower, like sixteen or less.

The problem is that in this country you are so dependent on a car that parents can't wait til their kids can drive, because nowhere can you go without a car.

If gasoline prices would be ten times the prices they are now and noone could afford to drive anymore, may be the housing development companies would finally change the way they design suburban and urban areas. The infrastructure here, separation between living areas, working (office) areas and commercial areas is "Zapperlot noch einmal einfach zum Kotzen".

[ Parent ]
Thats bullshit (2.75 / 4) (#43)
by rawg on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 11:11:15 PM EST

I live just fine without a car in the US. If I want to go someplace, I just hop on my bike and go. If I need to go someplace far away, I use the buss or train. The bay area is very good because they have BART. I dont live their anymore, but I still get by just fine with walking or biking.

Of course I'm not a fat ass...

[ Parent ]
It's harder in suburbia (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by Luke Francl on Mon Apr 23, 2001 at 11:58:12 PM EST

It's a lot harder in suburbia, or very spread out urban areas. I live in Minneapolis, and get around fine without a car (admittedly, I bum a lot of rides ;). Minneapolis/St. Paul has a decent transit system and eventually we'll have light rail (of course, the first route is a corparte welfare boondoggle to the Mall of America). But then, I'm a student.

People who live 10 miles from the city have a lot harder time. Suburbs are NOT designed with walking or biking in mind. Many of them don't even have sidewalks! And a lot of teenagers grow up in suburbs. There is a lot of nothing to do there, so having a car is great for them.

That being said, I'm frustrated by how America's cities and suburbs have been consistently designed as pedistrian unfriendly places. Read "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander for more information on how the design of cities affects society.

[ Parent ]
Gimme a break... (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by Danse on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 05:35:47 AM EST

If I need to go someplace far away, I use the buss or train.

You must live in one of the better designed cities then. Where I live, I'm a good 30 minute (in very light traffic) drive from my office downtown. There is no rail system here and the bus system is a sick joke. The busses are not dependable, and the nearest stop is a mile and a half from my home. There's about a 2 hour interval between the busses at the stop close to home as well. Unless I want to spend half my day waiting around for busses, it's not the way to go. The city also seems to be quite well segregated into business, shopping, and residential districts which means getting a decent job close to home is pretty damn tough to do.

Of course I'm not a fat ass...

Perhaps not, but you sure seem to be a jackass.

An honest debate between Bush and Kerry
[ Parent ]
Lucky you live in the Bay Area then (none / 0) (#47)
by Karmakaze on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:36:18 AM EST

I live in New Jersey, and am desperately looking for a job. I get my driver's license back in October 2001[1]

I've had to turn down my last six job offers because I'd have no way of actually getting to the work locations. I can only do my laundry because one of my neighbors drives me (two miles) to the nearest landromat out of the kindness of her heart. I haven't been clothes or book shopping since I lost my license because I can't get to a store (even the malls are unreachable).

I'm incredibly lucky in that I live near a train station (which is not the norm for NJ), otherwise I'd be completely unemployable. As it is, no work locations are anywhere near any of the train stations. As for busses - busses in New Jersey aren't even a joke. I've stood an hour waiting for a bus that's supposed to come every twenty minutes.

Driving is not a luxury here. Not by a long shot.

When I was a teen and couldn't drive, I simply didn't ever go out. When I lived in Portland, OR, I could get by without a car. If in some wacky alternate universe I could actually afford New York City rents, I could probably get around there without a car. But in suburbia, without a car, you're SOL.

[1] I've had my license suspended for 12 months because my insurance company went out of business and I only found out when I was pulled over for a routine stop. 12 #$%@ months with no work exception for missing one stupid notification letter. Drunk drivers? They get three months on the first offense. But me? I get to be functionally unemployable for a year. Plus, because it's an insurance offense, the driving while suspended penalty (including mandatory jail term for first offense) is doubled (as it is not for drunk or reckless driving suspensions). I'm not saying I wasn't an idiot for not paying closer attention to my paperwork, but 12 months is just preposterous.

[ Parent ]

Ever ride a bike 5 miles in -40 degree F weather? (none / 0) (#51)
by CodeBhikkhu on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:15:42 PM EST

Have you ever been to North Dakota? It's flat, it's bitterly cold, it's windy, and you would die if you tried riding your bike more than a few miles in the winter (on a nasty day.) For the distances many of us have to go to get anywhere useful in this country (USA) living without cars is unrealistic. It is unfortunate that in many midwestern cities we have zoning laws which have basically made it so that you have to drive a mile to get to a gas station and a grocery store.


I wish they had a vim interface for these stupid web editor windows.
"A week long Dalai Lama Fantasy Camp where you get to run around in red robes and eat rice and chant mantras with the Twelfth son of the Lama himself wont teach you what zen is." -- skyhook
[ Parent ]
Bah.... elitist easterner (none / 0) (#52)
by themessage on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:33:41 PM EST

Try living in the southwest corner of the state where you've gotta drive 30 miles to get to the nearest hospital. ;)

[ Parent ]
Ohh yeah!! (none / 0) (#54)
by CodeBhikkhu on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:51:23 PM EST

We used to walk to in bare feet 75 miles on thorn covered ground with 50 gallon water barrels on our back to the nearest well...hehe

I like how you mention "elitist easterner." I've never thought of North Dakota as eastern, but I guess it _sorta_ is. And depending on where you live in North Dakota, it is quite possible that the nearest hospital is 30 miles away, or more.

"A week long Dalai Lama Fantasy Camp where you get to run around in red robes and eat rice and chant mantras with the Twelfth son of the Lama himself wont teach you what zen is." -- skyhook
[ Parent ]
The sticks. (none / 0) (#55)
by rawg on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 08:25:37 PM EST

Yeah, I forgot about the people that live out in the sticks. But my comment was directed to the people that work two blocks from where they live and still drive. I've seen two in my area that do that so far. I ride my bike 5 miles to work, and 5 miles back. When I went to school, it was 3 miles each way. When I lived in the bay area, I would ride my bike from Alameda/Oakland to Bart then to Freemont, then ride to the other side of town. It only took about an hour, but I sure had fun riding. (I ride freestyle BMX). I go shopping on my bike. I go to eat on my bike. I even go to blockbuster on my bike. But I do admit that I drive my car when its raining or very cold, and when my destination is more than 10 miles away.

[ Parent ]
yeah, I ride my bike, (none / 0) (#56)
by mami on Mon May 07, 2001 at 07:21:32 PM EST

May with a baby on by back, a three year old on the front loading basket in 100 Fahrenheit over the hills with 2 gallons of milk, a bag of potatos, my briefcase, a laptop and gym bag balancing on my head (got my training in that...) ... at 2.5 times your average age ? Do you chase your old lady on the bike over hills and call her a names ? Fine by me. Hope you enjoyed it.

Ever heard about homeless women in LA, who you would never think of being homeless, because the last thing they give away is their car and that's their sleeping place, from where they manage to find a shower, iron their clothes, type up resumes and going to job interviews ? I just wonder what they might need their cars for, you know. Ever heard of giving used cars for the less fortunate, so that they have a chance to find a method to get to work in areas where there is no f*** public transportation ?

Of course there are neigbbourhoods (mostly very expensive ones), where you might get by without a car, but compared to Germany, Italy and other European countries, your suburban infrastructure sucks big time. Neat houses and pretty lawns don't cut it for me.

Have a good trip on your bike...has an angry feminist eventually ever attacked you and raped on your way to the campus or office ? Happens where I live once in a while, you know.

Arghh ....

[ Parent ]
Breaking the law? (4.50 / 2) (#39)
by thunderbee on Fri Apr 20, 2001 at 04:55:56 AM EST

It's not about breaking the law. It's about endangering other's lives. Drunk drivers usually kill more people than just themselves, and deserve to be punished as harshly as possible. I don't mind people killing themselves, I ressent being in danger every time I have to drive on a friday or saturday evening because of drunk drivers.

It's about responsability. I don't drink when I drive not because of the law, but because I feel it's my responsability not to endanger others.

As to the drinking age, I don't care - I tend to agree with what I read in the comments: if people can drkink before they drive, they have the time to become more responsible. Or do they?

Contradictions (3.33 / 3) (#40)
by Aztech on Sun Apr 22, 2001 at 06:29:47 PM EST

It seems ridiculous a teenager in the US has freedom to walk round with a gun, yet he is unable to drink until the age of 21. Does anyone else see the contradiction there? Why can't he be trusted to do both?

The age of self-determination in the UK is 18, the age of consent is 16, usually both gravitate toward the latter, you commonly find 16 year olds in bars and clubs, which doesn't seem to create any problems.

You can get a driving license when you're 17, however the police regularly breathalyse drivers, if you're young and driving about on a Friday or Saturday night, you're a prime candidate.

*gasp* guns (5.00 / 2) (#50)
by espo812 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:25:32 AM EST

You can buy a shotgun or rifle at the age of 18. Most people don't walk around with shotguns and rifles, however. You must be 21 to own a handgun. In Tennessee, you must be at least 21 to get a concealed carry permit. In Vermont, no one needs a permit to carry a gun. But again, you have to be 21 to buy one.

Not that this has anything to do with the drinking age. More appropriate question would be: Why, at 18, a person can be drafted into the military, but they arn't trusted to drink alcohol?<br><br>
<a href="http://www.lp.org/lp-blue-ribbon.html">Censorship is un-American.</a><br>

[ Parent ]
discrimination (none / 0) (#49)
by slothman on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:20:14 PM EST

The 14nth amendment actually prohibits any age related laws but creating a law based on age (or race or sex) us wrong. Non of those characteristics directly affects whether you should drink. Many young people drink responcably(huh?) or not at all, while adults often don't. Look at our Prez, he's a drunk driver and was elected to our nations highest office so it would be impossible to tell whether anyone should drink anyways.

Excellent Pro and Con link site about lowering (none / 0) (#53)
by MindMesh on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 01:50:24 AM EST

http://inst.santafe.cc.fl.us/~cah/speech/drinkage.html<br><P>-Fool- "When it's hot he wants it cold. When it's cold he wants it hot, always wanting what is not"</P><br>

The Aftermath of 1984 (Results of the U.S.'s National Minimum Drinking Age Act) | 56 comments (26 topical, 30 editorial, 2 hidden)
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