Another Debate About the Legal Age of Alcohol Consumption??

Here it goes again….Representative Mark Pettis (R), who is a Wisconsin state legislator is proposing a bill that would allow 19 and 20 year olds to consume alcohol by the drink in bars and restaurants but not purchase them in package stores.

His rationale? If they can be in the military and shoot a bazooka , they are old enough to drink alcoholic beverages. I’m not really sure what the connection is but interestingly enough, someone under 21 cannot legally own a handgun and I suspect that without close supervision by field officers, most field officers do not carry bazookas around in their hip pocket.

There are several problems with this rational put forth by Representative Pettis.

An article in today’s Pioneer Press outlines some of the concerns.

I was at the transition age back in the early 70’s when this debate surfaced and forced the lowering of most states drinking age to 18 or 19. There were problems with traffic accidents, access to alcohol by even younger kids who now had friends who were 18 and an increase in alcohol abuse by those under 21. More importantly, medical evidence suggests that people really don’t reach physical maturity until the age of 21.

Circumstances are different this time around too. Those in the military are volunteers, not drafted. This was a strong arguing point back in the 60’s and 70’s. Another concern is the fact that young soldiers still would not be able to consume alcoholic beverages where they are stationed since the bill would only apply to Wisconsin. Given the fact that most of our soldiers are stationed in Muslim countries that abhor the use of alcohol, I don’t think that sends a very good message.

We would also have the old problem of 19 and 20 year olds driving to Wisconsin to drink and then driving back to neighboring states to go home, most likely with levels of alcohol in their blood.

States who lower the drinking age will lose federal highway money. The change would open the door for legal challenges to broaden the scope of consumption of alcoholic beverages. It appears that the bill doesn’t have too much support in Wisconsin. The article didn’t state if the state alcohol beverage association is supporting this or any of the legislators who are supporting it.

I have too much respect for our enlisted men and women to demean them by somehow lowering their status of honor by rewarding them in the form of consumption of a drug, legal or not.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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