Patt Morrison for June 7, 2011

Tweeting, texting and drinking? Should we lower the drinking age from 21 to 18?

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Mar Fehrman/Flickr

Many call underage drinking a "U.S. epidemic."

Let's face it, many American teens have had their first taste of alcohol long before they turn 21. Breaking into the parents liquor stash or getting an older friend or family member to buy booze is almost a right of passage. Now a few experts and 130 college chancellors are saying, let's stop pretending and lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. They claim that underage drinking forces kids to drink subversively and can mystify the behavior in a way that makes it more enticing to young adults. The result can be an over consumption of alcohol (a.k.a binge drinking) which can be extremely dangerous, if not fatal. One expert wants to institute a type of learner's permit for drinking. An underage person can have a few privileges, like drinking with the family, until they prove they are responsible enough to drink without supervision. But not everyone agrees. The number of 8th, 10th and 12th graders who have engaged in binge drinking has gone down since the drinking age was increased to 21 and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that keeping the drinking age at 21 saves about 800 each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association both agree that the drinking age should remain 21. What do you think? If you're old enough to vote and fight for your country, are you be old enough to drink a beer? But if we allow 18-year-olds to buy and drink alcohol legally, will there be more drunk drivers on the road and as a result more lives lost? Listen to Patt to weigh-in and we promise, she'll be sober.

Guests:

David J. Hanson, professor emeritus of sociology at the State University of New York at Potsdam

James C. Fell, Senior Program Director, Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation Alcohol, Policy and Safety Research Center

Laura Dean-Mooney, national president, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)


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