A measure introduced in the Texas Legislature would lower the legal drinking age to 18—for members of the active duty U.S. military.
State Rep J.M. Lozano (R-Kingsville) would rewrite the state Liquor Code to declare that a person who is 18 or older and ‘is a member of the United States Armed Forces on active duty,’ is not a minor and could purchase beer, wine, and liquor at supermarkets and package stores and could order drinks in bars.
The person would have to ‘present a document’ certifying that he or she is in the active duty U.S. miltiary. The Reserves and former military members would not qualify.
Jennifer Northway, who heads the San Antonio Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says she respects the U.S. military and it’s members as much as anybody, but she says this is a terrible idea.
“The age limit for alcohol use is truly based on research that shows that young people react differently to alcohol,” Northway said.
She says the development of the teenaged brain does not accelerate just because the individual puts on a miltiary uniform.
She says the establishment of a drinking age of 21 back in the 1970s has had the biggest impact on highway safety of any action taken by the government.
“It is estimated that about 16% of the decrease in highway deaths has been attributed to that 21 minimum drinking age,” she said.
In fact, the number of highway deaths as a percentage of the total U.S. population peaked in the late 1960s and since then has fallen sharply since then. Figures show highway death rates falling the most significantly in the years after the 21 drinking age was established.
In 1969, there were 26 highway deaths per 100,000 population. That figure in 2011 was less than half of that, at ten deaths per 100,000 population. About 32,000 people were killed on U.S. highway in 2011, withy a U.S. population of 311 million. That is the same as the number of highway deaths in the U.S. in 1930, when the U.S. population was nearly one third that size, about 123 million.
Lozano’s bill does not allow active duty members of militaries of any other countries drink at 18.
It is unclear how Lozano’s bill would affect federal highway funding. Congress passed a law stripping highway funding from any state which did not raise the drinking age to 21, and that is what prompted the states to make the decision to raise the drinking age.
Source: 1200 News Radio WOAI