A group of college presidents is urging the lowering of the drinking age from 21 to 18. They say current laws encourage binge drinking on college campuses. The college presidents number about 100, and they represent some of the best known universities, like Dartmouth, Duke, and Ohio State University. Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and Morehouse are also members. They actually form a movement. It’s called the Amethyst Initiative.
They are facing determined opposition from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, who say lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car wrecks. MADD also accuses the college presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem. MADD officials address parents when they claim the 21-year-old drinking age will not be enforced at the campuses of the presidents who are part of the movement, saying parents should be careful in sending their children to those schools.
Both the college presidents and MADD agree that alcohol abuse by college students is a problem. Some research has found more than forty percent of college students have reported at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependance. One study estimated more than one-half million full-time students at four-year colleges suffer injuries each year related in some way to drinking, including about 1,700 who die in accidents.
Other college presidents disagree with the Initiative. Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami refused to sign the Amethyst Initiative. She was Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration. “To just shift [the drinking age] back down to the high schools makes no sense at all,” she said.
No Oklahoma college presidents are members of the Amethyst Initiative. Both the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have strict laws prohibiting the use of alcohol on campus. After the alcohol-related death of a fraternity pledge in 2004, the University of Oklahoma enacted a three-strikes policy that can lead to a student’s suspension.
“Since we adopted our alcohol policy three years ago, alcohol-related offenses have been reduced by almost 50 %, “ O.U. President David Boren. He and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis said they had not been asked to sign the Amethyst Initiative and had no plans to sign it. President Hargis speaks to fraternities and sororities about alcohol awareness.
Of course, there is the obvious argument that young people are allowed to serve (and die) for our country at age 18, vote, marry, and generally, be responsible as an adult at that age ……so why shouldn’t it be legal for them to drink then also? However, the results of lower deaths and accidents for 18 to 21 year olds is evidence of the benefits of keeping the legal age at 21. And even though reducing the drinking age would likely produce more clients needing a criminal defense lawyer….that’s not my goal. I’d much rather see young people have that extra time to mature before being faced with learning how to handle the issues of drinking responsibly. These issues are difficult enough for older adults, and I know every individual is different — with some more responsible than others at any age…. but, if the older drinking age saves lives and keeps more people from going to jail and ruining their lives I’m all for that.
If however, you or someone you care about is charged with an alcohol related offense, such as DUI or DWI, you should equip yourself with as much education about the process as possible, including learning how to avoid common mistakes, how to choose the right lawyer, and other critical issues. That’s why I encourage you to visit my site at http://www.oklahomacriminallawoffice.com to become educated on these issues. I’ve even added a couple of free videos in the library tab that will be very informative for someone accused of a crime. So be sure and check those out before making any decisions that can forever affect your life.