Should New Hampshire lower the drinking age?
By: LFDA Editor
Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, which imposed a 10 percent reduction in federal highway funds on any state setting its drinking age lower than 21.
The NH Legislature debated a measure to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18 in 2009, but the bill failed in the House.
The push to lower the drinking age gained momentum with the 2008 launch of the Amethyst Initiative, a national coalition of college presidents.
According to the group's website:
- Twenty-one is not working
- A culture of dangerous, clandestine “binge-drinking”—often conducted off-campus—has developed.
- Alcohol education that mandates abstinence as the only legal option has not resulted in significant constructive behavioral change among our students.
- Adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.
The group wants elected officials to rethink the legal drinking age, along with the highway funds penalty.
Arguments against lowering the drinking age include:
- Brain development continues through the age of 21, and may be disrupted by alcohol consumption.
- Some studies have found an association between higher drinking age and lower rates of traffic accidents.
- If 18 year-olds are allowed to buy alcohol, they will become suppliers for even younger adolescents.
- State laws often restrict other activities to adults over 21, including casino gambling, purchasing a handgun, adopting a child, and renting a car.
The legal drinking age hasn't always been 21 in New Hampshire. It was lowered to 18 in 1973 and later raised to 20 in 1979.
All 50 states abide by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.
Do you think the state should lower the drinking age?
For addition pros and cons on raising the drinking age, check out this report
compiled by a state government class at UNH.