Should the Drinking Age Be 18?

By F&W Editors Posted February 29, 2016

One New Jersey lawmaker thinks so, anyway, 

It's an age-old argument in American households: What is the appropriate age at which people should be allowed to drink alcohol? For most parents, the answer is pretty straightforward: Since 1984, the legal drinking age in the United States has been 21 years of age. But New Jersey assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, a Republican from the state's 25th district, is trying to lower the age—at least in the Garden State. 

"If you're enough to join the military, as two of my sons have, and to be handed an M4 and to be sent on lethal missions where you're risking your life, it seems to be you're adult enough to make the relatively trivial decision whether to buy a six pack of beer," Carroll said, according to ABC News 6.

Carroll recently introduced a piece of legislation into the New Jersey legislature that would lower the drinking age to 18. The chances of the bill succeeding, however, appear slim: The New Jersey Assembly has a Democratic majority. And if the law passed, the federal government would automatically reduce New Jersey's federal highway apportionment funding by eight percent. That's per the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, a federal law Congress passed in 1984, which mandates penalties for states that allow people under the age of 21 to legally drink alcohol. The law itself, however, does not dictate that the national legal drinking age be 21—that question is left to the states.

New Jersey isn't the only state considering lowering the drinking age: Lawmakers in Minnesota, California, and New Hampshire have reportedly proposed similar bills. 

 A spokesman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), however, thinks this is a terrible idea. 

"We have the science and data that backs up keeping the drinking age at 21 years old," he told ABC News 6, about the New Jersey law. "The brain isn't fully developed. We save over 800 lives a year nationwide from the 21 year old drinking age."

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