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NCJ Number: 225393 Find in a Library
Title: Examination of the Criticisms of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age 21 Laws in the United States from a Traffic-Safety Perspective
Author(s): James C. Fell
Corporate Author: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
United States of America
Date Published: October 2008
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Beltsville, MD 20705-3102
US Dept of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Admin
Washington, DC 20590
Sale Source: US Dept of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Admin
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
West Building
Washington, DC 20590
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After critiquing arguments for lowering the minimum legal drinking age from 21 (MLDA-21), which was established under the Federal National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, this paper provides information and supporting data on the benefits of keeping the MLDA at 21.
Abstract: One argument for lowering the MLDA from 21 is that 19-and 20-year-olds are drinking anyway, so why not legalize it so they will drink in controlled settings. Research shows, however, that about half of drivers arrested or killed while driving intoxicated (DWI) had been drinking at licensed establishments. Another argument for lowering the MLDA is that keeping it at 21 only increases the desire for the "forbidden fruit," such that when teens turn 21, they will drink heavily. Research shows, however, that when the drinking age is 21, those younger than 21 drink less and continue to drink less through their early 20s. A third argument is that the Federal MLDA exerts too much authority over the States. The response to this argument is that providing for the public’s safety is the primary responsibility of government at all levels. Three other arguments for lowering the MLDA are also presented, all to the effect that the MLDA of 21 is ineffective in reducing alcohol-related crashes or that a lower MLDA would be more effective in curbing drunk driving problems. This policy paper argues that national and international evidence shows that lowering the drinking age results in increased traffic crashes and that lowering the drinking age in combination with alcohol education programs does not impact the drinking and driving habits of youth under 21 years old. In arguing for a continuance of a MLDA of 21, this paper points to a 59-percent reduction in the rate of young alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes between 1982 and 1998. 3 tables, 3 figures, and 25 notes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Driving Under the Influence (DUI); Federal legislation; Legal drinking age; Traffic law enforcement; Traffic offenses
Note: Downloaded January 12, 2009
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