Drunk Driving and Raising the Drinking Age

This brief report is prepared in response to numerous requests for information on the related issues of drunk driving and raising the drinking age.

CI 0 z 0 Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress 4 DRUNK DRIVING AND RAISING TEIE DRINKING AGE IP0186D In response to numerous requests for information on the related issues of drunk driving and raising the drinking age, we have prepared this packet of informational materials. At the present time officials at the Federal level are becoming more concerned about these areas and are beginning to look for possible solutions on a national scale. However, many State and local governments have passed or are presently considering stiffer legislation. Information on action at these levels can be obtaining by contacting the appropriate State or local agency. Information at the Federal level is available from: U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Washington, D.C. 29590 Additional information on this subject, particularly in newspapers and periodicals, may be found in a local library through the use of such reference sources as Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, Public Affairs Information Service ~ u l r d e x . We hope this information will be helpful. Members of Congress desiring additional information may contact CRS at 287-5700. Congressional Reference Division Proble By Donid W. M o y h Maryland's drinking driver intervention program aids not only in treating the symptoms but also the underlying probiemsof the people who cause more than deaths and battlefields of wars. THEold admonition "If you drive. don't drink; if you drink, don't drive" is followed religiously by nondrinkers and nondrivers, but few others. Unfortunately. we largely have ignored the problem caused by drunken driven and quietly accepted as inevitable the staggering human loss of life and limb and property damage. The carnage caused by drunken glrive n is a national disgrace. More of our citizens are killed or maimed each year by drunken drivers thah were lost on the battlefieids of Vietnam o r Korea. In 1980 alone, a typical year, 52.600 people were killed, while 1,400,000 suffered disabling injuries as a result of motor vehicie accidents, according to the National Safety Council. The economic loss caused by these accidents was a staggering 539.3 billion. Drinking was a causal or contributing factor in more than half of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. Blood alcohol concenvadons were high enough to indicate intoxication in 40 to 55 per cent of all accidents involving driver fatalities in 1980, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminisuation. Until recently politicians, lawmakers. and judges have failed even to acknowledge the problem, much less to propose any reasonable means calculated to get the dmnken drivers off the road. Perhaps we have been too quick to identify with the offenders and too ready to sympathite with their plight. to treat them as law-abiding citizens caught up in a web of circumstances beyond their con- , troi. We have failed to differentiate between the social and problem drinkers. Now. at long last. a relentless and resolute public voice is being raised in protest. In Maryland. as elsewhere. public officials are initiating and funding new programs and enacting legislation that recognize the problem created by dnrnken driven and that attempt to address it. By every indication, the intensified law enforcement efforts are gomg to continue. The success o r failure of new programs and the realization of the goal of getting drunken dnvers off the road, however, will ultimately depend on trial judges. They are given a unique opportunity. They confront more problem drinkers and alcoholics than does any other profession o r group. The traditional approach to sentencmg has been to impose a small fine. A sccond or subsequent offender would receive a slightly higher fine and occasionally even a short jail sentence. Often the administrative consequences of a conviction were avoided altogether because the coun would grant the offender probation before judgment. Until a recent change in t h e law in Maryland. for example, the probation before judgment did not even show up on the offender's driving record. When the chances of gerting caught in the first place are slim and the consequences flowing from drunken driving are softened or excused by the coun. it is not surprising that the arrest and court expeience are of little help to the individual or an aid to the enhancement of public safety on the highways. A new approach to an old problem was begun four years ago by Judge David N . 0 1 9 8 3 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with permission of copyright clamant. Batessf the District Coun of Maryland. He s t a n d the drinking driver monitor program of Baltimore County. which has been nationally recognized And is now being considered as a statewide model by the Governor's Task Force on Drinking and Driving. In 1981 the D i s m a Coun for Washington County, Maryland, started the drinking driver intervention program. Many nf it* ertential features arc incorporated from or slight variations of the Bates model and arc explained and outlined in the hope that our promay be of interest to practitioners and judges elsewhere in the United States. Alcoholism Services. Inc., a nonprofit corporation. has a coun alcohol counselor present in the courtroom at each session of the Dismct Court for Wash- ington County at which cases charging driving while intoxicated and driving under the inhence of alcohol are scheduled for trial. The screening and identification procedure takes place after a guilty verdict has been entered and befote sentencing. After the judge enters a verdict of guilty, a brief recess in the proceedings is called so that the defendant and his counsel may meet with the alcohol counselor in a conference room. In addition, if the defendant consents, any interested person a family member, minister or rabbi, friend, or employer-may participate. The counselor may administer the Johns Hopkins 20 questions, the Michigan alcohol screening test, or rely on a less structured question and answer session. The counselor also may consider - the testimony, statement of facts, questions asked in the coun session, the blood alcohol level, and the prior driving and criminal record of the defendant with particular emphasis on any alcohoid a t e d offenses. The evaluation session general1y is concluded within ten to I5 minutes, and the participants return to the courtroom for final disposition. If the time proves inadequate and the information too vague and inconclusive, the counselor will request additional time-generally a week or twa-to gather background data and conduct more extensive screening and testing procedures. Usually, however, the defendant can be identified on the same day as being in one of these categories: i l ) an early, middle, or chronic stage alcoholic; (2) a heavy recommendation in whole or in part, and the ultimate responsibility for the sendrinker. tencing of the individual, including any The tend issue of whether the de- alternative sentence, rests with the fendant is a social or problem drinker judge. The question often has arisen as to and whether the driving episode is symptomatic of an underlying alcohol whether the treatment mandated by a problem is considered. The counselor court probation order is constitutional. also makes a specific recommendation Qeariy, the judge is at liberty to impose for education or treatment, or both. The and to maridate partidpation in a treatidentification and recommendation to the ment plan in the same manner that any judge are similar in nature to that in a other specid conditions of probation written pnsentence report. The judge is may be manciami. A second question often raised is at h i to follow or discgad them. Holding the screening and identifica- whether "required treatment" will prove tion procedure immediately following the effective. The d d myth that only voluntrial and before the sentencing at the tary treatment will work and that a persame session of court bas proved to be sorr should not k coerced into treatmeat cost effective. This eliminates tlie need - . . -..: ,=sva-. , for a d d i t i d eial notices and for separate disposition hcatings and appearances on a second date. It saves everyone time and expense. Disposition is made without delaying or clogging the dockets. Court-directed intervention, begun on the date of trial,has proved far more effective from a treatment standpoint. Treatment now begins on the date of trial. Under the old concept, weeks, aad in miny instances months, elapsed before the defendant actually began on any sort of education or treatment plan. The principal educational aspect of the program is the D.W.I. school, which is appropriate to all three categories of offeadcn. The purpose of the educational experience is to alert the defendant to the hazards to himself and others of drinking has been discredited. The amcnt and and driving and to alert the individual to more enlightened view held by the amed the eariy signs and progressive nature of forces, large corporate employers, many alcoholism. The instructors gperally use Alcoholics Anonymous members. and tbe Socratic method. If tbe individual the National Council on AIcohdism is rccognircs any eariy signs of alcoholism that recognition of the problem and eady or problem drin&ing, an opportunity is intervention is the state of the an in alafforded for self-identification and vol- cohol treatment. On the question untary referral to some further educa- whether forced treatment works, James tional or trratment progmn. The cost, E. Royce of Seattle University in his which is borne by each person assigned comprehensive survey, Alcohol Probto the school, is S75. For anyone who is lems and Alcoholism, writes: "Research is not unanimous on the indigent, the costs are waived. The meetings consist of four twehour ses- point, but most evidence suggests higher sions, which am held once a week for rates of recovery in forced treatment. This, of course. may be at least partidy four consecutive weeks. If the offender is identified as an alee due to the earlier amst of the illness. holic or problem drinker, the counselor The real danger is that not onIy the makes a treatment recommendation tail- spouse but also fellow workers and the ored to the individual's needs. The judge immediate supervisor will deny the is at Irkrty to foUow or to disregard the problem or cover up for the alcoholic, drinker who may or may not be an alcoholic; and (3) a social or occasional f '0' shielding from higher management in a misguided form of help. which may acrud y be lethal. Whether it is called tough love or constructive coercion. the experience of many programs confirms the fact that forcing an alcoholic into treatment as an alternative to job termination is saving jobs and lives." The treatment approach generally is m a v e d for people who have been identitied as alcoholics or problem drinkers. It may include impatient care at a statenm institution, a Veterans Administration center, or a private treatment center under an employer program. It may indude the weekend intervention program at a community detoxification center, which is aften used as a pan of the sentence for second and subsequent offenders. The in-patient care is generally one month in duration, and the weekend intervention program generally involves five weekends. An effort is made to place the defendant in an afterere, out-patient program immediately on release !+om the treatment fxdity. The after-care treatment plan also is tailored to the individual's needs, and an attempt is made to surround the individual with as much s u p port as available. Ideally, the c o w alchd counselor will attempt to enlist the support of the members of the family, an employer or work supervisor, a health department counselor, a spiritual adviser, and any other interested individufor example. an Alcoholics .Is Anonymous sponsor. Participation in AIcohoiics Anonymous and total abstinence from alcoholic beverages during the period of probation are integral pam of the trcatment. The treatment plan usud y will be limited to out-patient care only. While inpatient care may be preferred in some instances, the necessity to retain the offender's job and attempt to stabilize the family outweigh the advantages of inpatient w e in most cases. Experience has shown that if t h e treatment does not work, generaily speaking, the plan has been too tentative, too timid, and too much time has elapsed between sentencing and the beginning of treatment. A more intensive pian over a shorter period of time. promptly begun. has tended to work better than a less intensive plan that drags out over a longer period. Mandated - treatment should continue for a! least six ticular importance is directed toward the tion. The office at the center is staffed by experienced individuals who can verify month,. and if resources permit, it after-care treatment requirements. Meals are furnished by the county the attendance and participation of the should be extended to I8 months to two yean. Ideally. the individual will con- sheriffs d e p m e n t , and the staff of Al- individual in the program and also can tinue to participate in Alcoholics coholism Services is charged with the re- offer a great deal of suppon and underAnonymous or other treatment voiun- sponsibility for the offender's confine- standing. If an individual fails to report or infortnrily after completing the special condi- ment or whereabouts at all times. A portions rnandated by the court sentence. tion of the cost. S 125, is borne by the mation comes to the attention of the The chances for long-term abstinence arc offender. except that no one is denied the monitor of a probable violation of any of greatly enhanced by beginning the mat- opportunity to participate in the program the special conditions of the probation. beguse of indigency. In its tint year. 17 tbe monitor reports to the court, which ment immediately. The idea of a weekend intervention persons successfully completed the may issue a warrant or summons chargprogram came about because of a weekend intervention pro~pamand only ing a violation of probation. Delay is kept chronically overcrowded jail. Second two individuals had to be removed dur- to a minimum, and noncompliance with and subsequent offenders usually werc ing the initial five-week period. In the the special conditions of probation result bting sentenced to a short jail sentence. aftcr-care phase, 54 are attending Alco- in a prompt hearing before the sentencIf family and finand stabiiitjr or em- holics Anonymous regularly and are re- ing judge. The monitoring aspect of the program ployment would othemise be placed in maining abstinent. Of the other 23. conjeopardy, judges often werc allowing the tact has been lost with 14 and nine are tends to ensure compliance and reoffender to serve the jail sentence on . not attending Alcoholics Anonymous or enforce the message that the individual must actively participate and co-opcrate weekends. With the weekend influx remaining abstinent. in the treatment plan or bear the conseadded to an already ovemowded jail, some inmates were being housed in corquences. The drinking driver intervention proridon under unsafe and unhealthy concases the concepts gram has proved to be an effective ditions. To relieve the pressure. our In weapon in the fight to get drunken dnvcourt agreed tha~the drunken driver of- of punishment, on the one fenders could be detained at a cornmuas off the roads. It not only deals with nity detoxification center. Security has hand, and intervention and the symptoms but also with the underiy-. not proved to be a problem. In fact, in- treatment, on the other, ing drinking problem. Deep philosophformalcounseling sessions began to take not mutually exclusive. Most ical differences still exist among the trial place. Alcoholism Services saw the p+ judges-those who feel that punishment. tcntid and proposed the weekend p m judges incorporate treatment alone is the answer and those who beto the court. lieve that intervention and treatment are as a part of a comprehensive Under this approach, the judge imimponant. But in attempting to reconcile poses the jail sentence deemed ilppmpri- sentence that aiso includes a that dichotomy, it is imponant to emphaate, taking into consideration the offend- number of punitive aspects. size that the two concepts arc not mutuer's prior driving record. the aggravating d y exclusive. While some judges have and mitigating circumstances, and the exercised judicial leniency to encourage identification and degree of any problem Participation in treatment is monitored an offender to participate in a treatment drinking or alcohoiism. A portion of a weekly by A.S.I. to ensure that the of- program, the leniency is not pan and longerjail sentence usually is suspended. fender is complying with the special con- parcel of the treatment program. Most and the offender actually sewes a mini- ditions of treatment imposed by the judges are incorporating treatment as mum of five weekends. The first court. Regardless of the hours the of- part ofan over-all sentence that includes weekend is spent in jail, while the re- fenders work. they can report to the a number of punitive aspects. We have maining four are at the deroxitication monitor at the center without missing found that proper treatment is far more center. any time from work. It is centrally lo- inausive on the offender's time and lifeDuring the four weekends the offend- cated in the county and is staffed around style than most people realize and has a en receive intensive education on the the clock, seven days a week. The definite punitive aspect. disease concept of alcoholism and have monitor reviews the attendance slips The drinking driver intervention prothe opportunity to discuss in group and from Alcoholics Anonymous and main- gram in Washington County. Maryland. individual counseling sessions their un- tains records to verify the compliance is having a profound impact on people's dentanding of the disease and its impii- with the conditions of the treatment as- lives and the public safety of our highcations. They attend five meetings of Al- pect of the sentence. ways. It is a program reasonably calcucoholics Anonymous each weekend. R e The monitor aiso has the opportunity lated to get drunken drivers off the scntment and denial are highest in the to look the individual in the eye and in- roads. beginning and diminish significantly quire as to how things are going and during the third and founh weekends. whether the individual is abstaining ftom (Daniel W . Moylan is an associare The staff attempts to assess and deal the use of alcohol, if that is one of the judge of rite Circuit Court for Washingwith each offender as an individual. Par- conditions of the unsupervised proba- ton Counry. Maryland.) D.W.I. are- a Jmrury, 1983 Volume 69 42 Pro and Con YES--"The only ones being Intimidated are drunks and drug usersJ' N W W e must bend over backward to protect individual rightsJ' QCommWocurMcGu~whydoyout.v~~poUcr~ol Mr. R o e m u * why do you ~toat&dnm&mdrlvom7 ch.dtpdnfs to at& drunkm drlvom7 the w e of polit. chock- A Half of the 50,000 traffic fatalities &h year in this A Because they diminish the standard for pennissibie searches and seizures that is laid down by the Fourth corntry are alcohol related. This is a major concern in our Amendment to our Constitution. That standard is, or ought city and throughout the country. We are trying to respond in a way that is effective and creates a minimum of to be, that the police must have evidence leading them to believe that a particular individual has committed a crime intrusion. ,before they can stop or search him. Q wtutewttyh.pP.ru8ta~ With police checkpoints or roadblocks, you don't have A The checkpoints are situated at tollbooths where trafsuch a standard. You have what amounts to general, warfic automatically slows down anyway and at other points rantless searches and seizures. where traffic is heavy and accidents are likely. They are ~ ~ 7 ' 0 ~ m I d # . d # c h d a y b y d n t n k m d p t v manned by police under careful supervision. ua~Yth.$8vlngotUrmwocthamlnhnumotlmonwnknce As a car slows down in the traffic, a police officer walks dongside it and tallu to the driver. As he does so, he looks ~.tach.dtpolnn A- If you allow police to set this bind of precedent, tbey'll for signs of alcohol or drugs-dmed speech, glassy eyes, use it in other situations as well. Why not stop people at beer cans, a smell of marijuana. He aLw hands the driver a shopping centers to see if they have stolen some merchanpamphlet on the dangers of drunk driving. dise? Why not search students for guns and drugs before If he finds nothing suspicious, he lets the driver proceed. they enter schooP Why not search people outside of bars or Otherwise he has the driver pull over and administers a in +t of banks? If we did that, our entire society would be p r e h h r y breath test to determine alcohol content. If the different and you could move around only with permission driver fails the test, he is taken to a police station for a of the police. We must bend over backward to protect indifurther t e s t 4 Breathalizer. vidual rights, even in the face of serious social problems. So, our +imis, f'ust, to catch drunk drivers and save their QStopphgdardUghtorartopabgndooon't~ lives and the lives of others; and, secondly, to educate and .bout 8 p d b dHdrpolllf? m o m ' 8 rfglrtr -8 deter the population at large. A Stopping at a traffic light or stop sign or railroad You don't yt.top mry H crossing does not involve any police intrusion. It is different A No. If a car is slowing down anyway-say, to pay a from permitting the police to intrude by stopping, seizing t o U e whole procedure may take place without even a and seadung someone. second of additional delay. On the other hand, if the traffic Qnpouaatach.drpokrtmnot.uthorb.dtosnntr conditions require it, we may ask the car to pull over so we ~or.dmlnt.trak..tlrtestunkuthymauspldour can talk to the driver without creating a safety hazard. That k h n k r ~ h o r m R k ~ a I n t k n ~ t h . t n may involve a delay of some 2 minutes at a maximum. Q ~ ' t t h b ~ l l m c o m t r t O t h .A ~It's not intimidation in the sense that people have been hauled out of their cars and beaten over the head, but pmhlbitlon-rbibry-.ndit's an intrusion in the sense that the procedure is not A It would if, without q x d i c grounds for suspicion, an voluntary. You can't ignore it and get away with it. unsupervised police officer stopped certah cars randomly Suppose someone at a checkpoint rehws to roll down his and arbitrarily--say cars driven by young women or anwindow and accept the little piece of paper they sometimes tique cars. But the courts have found that checkpoints that hand y o 3 Suppose someone just waves to the police and are systematic and nonarbitrary are permissible. Q ~ r m 0 t . u d r ~ r t o r m o f i n t l m l b t l o n o l t h .drives on? I would advise such a person to have a good lawyer and some bail money ready, because they're going lnnocmn A For an answer, look at the reaction of the public. We to be in serious trouble. The Supreme Court has not ruled specifically on these have talked to 155,000 drivers in New York City since the checkpoints But it has indicated repeatedly that, if a police program began, and the reaction of the overwhelming maofiicer stops a car, this is the equivalent of search and jority has been extremely positive, responsive and courteous. The people of this city have been effusive in thanking seizure in the sense of the Fourth Amendment. Q E~Uh.~u&atrto.k*rdovm? the police for doing this and indicating they thought it was A Not if there's been an accident and a police officer long overdue. The amount of criticism over intrusion into C o M M @ 1983. U . S . N m 8 Wortd Report Inc. Reproduced by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with perrniss J u l y 4 , 1983 of copyright claimant. 5 Intorview Wlth Commlrrrlonc~McGulre (cmwud) Interview Wlth Mr. Roomer (continued) their lives has been minimnl. I think the only ones who are being intimidated are the drunks and drug users, who create a peril to themselves and others. puts up his hand to make you siow down. But if he slows you down or stops you to see if you're drunk or have weapons or are transporting women across the statc line, that is a legal equivalent of search and seizure. So, I would object to such checkpoints on humamrights grounds even if they were effective. But they aren't. Q Wh8tnukeayouuyth.n A In the whole state of Maryland, the number of people arrested at checkpoints for drunk driving is well below 1 percent of those stopped. In Cecil County, the police made more than 6,000 stops at the checkpoints and arrested only 31 people, or half of 1 percent. And there are no statistics yet on how many of these were actually convicted of drunk driving. Q But oven H tow drunkom drtvors m crugM, don't chock- Wh.1 h8ppUt8 H 8 drlvW, W W l tho-h ~byt.lldngtoth.polk.m8n? WbU, &US08 to A Not a thing. The program is voluntary. A poiiceman who did anything to such a driver would be compromisiug the whole program by going beyond the Low. That's why, before we ttarted the program, we cardully trained our police &cers to avoid confrontation with the drivers. Q k8~nuttw,won'trdnnkondrhmrbnplyrvdd rdmkpdntmddrtvadown#nnotha+tmn A You're assuming that a drunk driver acts rationally. People who are full of alcohol or other drugs are risk talers. They believe they won't be caught mvthermore, we move the checkpoints around-me toll booth on lhesday and another one on Wednesday and so forth--so nobody knows in advance where they will be. Q la?th.proportton of drunk ~IIVU~ CBU~M at arth ch.drpolntamyl~MHro,whyI.th.~rrwthth..ttort md.rp.nw? A Since the program started on May'27, we've arrested 198 driven out of the 155,000 we stopped. That may not look like a large number, but it's h o s t double the number of ~ e s t we s made in the same period last year, when we had no checkpoints. Even so, we fully reaiize that hundreds and perhaps' thousnads of people who went through these checkpoints had been drinking but were not caught, because we hadn't d k h t evidence to make an amst 'But something even more important than the amstr is the educational and deterrent effect the program hPs on the population as a whole. It has gotten this problem on the front pages of newspapers and to the top of people's consdouaness. For the first time, people are beginning to r e ognize how serious it is. point8 dobr nuny mace pot.nti.l offandorst - A They may at first, because whenever you introduce a new lawenforcement procedure, people tend to be a bit more cautious. But in three or four years, once it becomes old hat, I doubt you1 see much of a deterrent effect. EspecAly since you're dealing here with alcoholics, who are suffering from an illness or compulsion and are going to keep Rding up and down and killing people no matter how many checkpoints the police put up. Of course, there are all kinds of things you codd do to deter crime. Suppose the police said: We are going to ride through high-crime neighborhoods at night and arrest the first 15 people we see. That would deter crime, because you'd have fewer people on the streets, fewer people drunk and disorderly. But it wouldn't be worth the cost. Q Don't .t.tlrtlcr rhorr 8 rub.tmntld dmp in accidents In uwr~ch.ckpoint.hnnkarm? A There's some debate about that in the state of Maryland The state police believe-and I have no reason to disagree-that there has been a decline in alcohol arrests and accidents in places where checkpoints have been put into dfect But I think you would have seen the same result even without checkpoint., due to generally stricter laws QWouldn't~raourcukdmom.tlld.ntlyHpa= t r d ~ r W t . d t O C W C l l ~ ~ ~ governing 8 a r ~ drunk driving and a dramatic change in the h m d o u t o f t m f i k n t h . r t h . n c h . d d n g h u g o ~ o t handling of drunk drivers by the courts. lmmantdrtcnrr7 A few years ago, drunk driving was treated as a joke. It no A The general patrol force is doing that, but that's not longer is-and I'm glad of it. I'm all for getting those drunks enough. The patrol force in New York--and I'm sure in off the road and into the pokey. But I don't want to see the other large cities, t o o - h much overworked. Most of my Fourth Amendment whittled down. police can are busy responding to emergency calls for help. Also, Baltimore County argues that it has achieved the The dam are none when we had large numbers of police same result--and much more cost-effectively, without C M just batrolhg the streets, checkpoints-by instituting so that if you got drunk and speaa.l drunk-driving patrols. drove, it was at your own per& Q Isn't thm l e u &gar to evConsequently people have ber r y w who81 polatck drunk come Ip.,and that's what we're d r h r s 8t a Ch.drpdnt mUm than trying to turn around--using Eh..ingth.mmroUghtrclfflC? checkpoints and patrols to comA Even with checkpoints, plement each other. you still need patrols if you realQ Some pooplo are u y i n g ly want to catch drunk drivers. Unram.noughbo~on Unless a drunk driver is totally th.mada~wlthoukth.pasmashed, he'll just turn around Ik.rddhgtoIh.rrr-and drive down another street A That's why we run our proif he knows there's a checkpoint gram in such a way as to avoid ahead creating any. If the traffic gets The police can do other heavy, we might use only one things, t-like staking out bars lane in a tollbooth for checking and areas where there is known purqoses, or check the next five to be a high incidence of drunk carslostead of the next 10. We're driving. They've got a perfect byir~gto achieve our goal with a right to do that, so long as there minimum of inconvenience. O is no unwarranted intrusion. a .NEWS & WORLD REPORT, July 4. 1983 -- - -- TSOURCE: Pro and Con U.S. News and World Report January 30, 1984 Legal Age for Drinking? Intervlew With John Volpe Chairman. Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving lntervlew With Governor Richard Snelling Q Mr. V o w why dM the Prdd.cltW Commkrlon on Drunk DrMng recommend denying federal hlghmy funds to states ltut fall to maintain a minimum lo@ age of 21 for ttm purrh... or puMk poubulon of .kaholk -7 Q Governor Snolllng, why do you oppose niung the legal age for drinklng to 217 A Because it has been well established that although 16to-24yearolds make up only 20 percent of a l l licensed drivers, they are involved in 42 percent of fatal alcoholrelated crashes. Q Whatpootis~th8t~th.drfnkhgag th.nunb.rott.t.l~? A It is very well proved. Michigan, for instance, had an increase of about 20 percent in deaths resulting from drunk driving when it reduced the drinking age from 21 to 18 in the Vietnam War era. They raised it back up to 21, and there was a decline of 31 percent in such deaths. Reductions of fatalities from druuk driving by about 2,600 from 1981 to 1982-during a time when 14 states had just raised the drinking age-show that we're on the right track. If all nmaining states raised the age to 21, the lives of an estimated 730 more young persons would be saved annually. Q VVbuMn'tt.dml.ctlononth.drinkingageI~Ina nuttar t h t I8 tmdMoMlly mg- YESYOlltnSuami~ohred b42 rrrcsatof fatal alcohol-refated uhtod by 8tat.87 A Our proposal would induce the states to design &$;y&~~p hThis is oreferable. since the states &e where the accidents haown and where the police add court work has to be done. A uniform federal law would be difficult to enforce. Q A man or woman can Republican of Vermont A Because it would mislead people into believing that something had really been done to lower auto fatalities from drunk driving. The statisticsoften cited as a reason for raising the drinking age fail to justify in any way a conclusion that there will be fewer fatalities. 10e ~ Instead, in almost every state, it is tougher law ~ Y ~ a g j enforcement and working 01 ~ O ~ ~ - P O i harder in the schools to educate kids on the dangers of and SCh001~ me alcohol abuse that- have caused highway fatalities to fall. We need- to do more along these lines, such as by tightening standards in tests for alcohol in the blood. We also should take away driver's licenses when we find people repeating a drunkdriving offense. anmet am QkcodngtomPrdd.cltW Cornon Drunk DrMnfta8tudydmwsth.tH .nrtrt..8etttm~drlnldna ageat21,~&k73i f . m r young persons kilhd annually on the highway- A That's a piece of hokum. The statistics cited do nothing to establish a causal relationship. The underlying numbers do show that many of the states that have raised the drinking age have had lowered fatalities for a year or two. But othirkates that have not raised the drinking ageVermont, for examplehave had even greater reductions #N.Inth.anmd~ca8k in fatalities. An exhaustive study published in the Neu England Jourfore fudtlng aQ0 21. Is It falr t o ~ a u c h r p m o n o t t h e nal of Medicine shows that when Massachusetts increased the drinking age, it had no effect whatsoever in reducing right to buy alcoholic k v w fatalities attributable to drinking. ages and drink In publlc?' Q When om atate has a legal drinking age of 21 and a A Drinking is not a right. ndghborlng state has r I.gd age of 18, the result Is a lot of It's a orivilene. Remember. trwd across atate line8 by youth. wsking alcohokmrny of too, &at an i&ividd is u i whom got dnmk More they hit the road for home. Isn't this a der constant supervision in the military services. strong srgumont for a drlnking age that i8 uniform nationwide? Q Don't mlnirnum-drlnklngage Imr,punish aU young pooplo A Yes, to the extent that that's your god, a uniform age toraprobkmQ..1odbyafow? A Some laws have to be passed that limit privileges of of 18 would accomplish as much as age 21. But the Constitution of the United States sets the voting age at 18, and some groups in order to stop abuses which jeopardize the almost all states recognize the age of majority as 18. entire population. Those who believe the federal government should have Q Wouldn't It k mere effoctlvo to I m 8 u the number of shoo4 programs that teach the danger8 of drinking? some limits in its right to legislate for the states should think very carefully about the precedent set by efforts to estabA Well, it will take a variety of things to stop this epilish a federally legislated drinking age. demic of fatalities from druuk driving, such as better education b r youth, stiffer laws and better enforcement. We also Q In today's society, nuny parent8 are unable to control the drinking of thdr children aftw they reach 18. Doesn't the govhave to do a better job of educating adults. Q Some people amtend that contrd of toen drlnklng should .mnnnt have to set sorm standards to pmtm the public? A Persons at the age of 18 may marry, have children. kkfttopat.ntrsign contracts and do a host of other things that in reality A It is different from 50 years ago. Too many parents may expose themselves and their families and others to today don't know where their youngsters are at night or danger. What we should do is make sure that parents unwhat shape they're in when they get home. An enforced derstand their responsibilities and urge them to set a propage limit of 21 for drinking is needed to reduce this tragic er example before the child reaches the age of majority. 0 carnage on the highways. 0 7 O 1984 U.S. News 8 World Report. Inc. Reproduced by the bbrary of Congress. Congressional Research Service with permission of copyright claimant. i ~ New Y o r k Times, July 18, 1984, pp. Al, A15. Reagan Signs Bill Tying Aid to Drinking Age - WASHPrGTON, July 17 m d m t Reagaa, PppcaLing for amperation in axling the ''cr~y quilt d diffcrcllt drinidng laws," today signed leghhtim Uiat would deny some Federal highway funds to stata that keep tbeir drinking age under 2. At a cemmoq in the white Hauc Rose Garden. Mr. Reagan prai+i as "a gnat n a t i d r n ~ ~ t m e n tthe * ' effmLItoraisctha~gagethat kgan ycan ago unang studand sat=' m=- "We know that drin#ng, plm driving, spell death and disaster," Mr. Reagnn toid visitors an a sacltcnng afternoon "We k a that people in the l&*D age group am more likely to be in aifohoCrelrrted accidents than those in any otherage group." Mr. Reagan indirectly admaaledged that he a m had ~scrvationsabout a measure that, in effect, seeks to force stata to cfiafge their poliaq. In the . pea, Mr. Reagan has taken the view that certain manas of amam to the states should not be subject to the d i e tat- of the Fedvrl -a But ia the of dmakea driving, Mr. Reagan said '"The problem is bigger t ! ! the individualstates." "It's a grave nationaIproblem, and it touches all GP l i ~ , he " added. "With the pmblern so dearand the pmvm sofutiun at hand, we hve no misgiVingabouttbisjudiciGauseof Federal power." in dropping his opposition to thc measure. thc Raident had said he aas pajunded by tbe evidence that raisingthedliddngagecouldsove O 1984 The New York Times. Reproduced by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with permission of copyright claimant. Reagan Signs .BillTying Aid to Drinking Age ~ m ~ H i l l , e w s o m e o t tbosesuppaRtnstbemeusrtresaidpriW y that it was csucive. mewythn stater have a mtnimrmr dnnLtng age of 21. In addition. . niah~andtheMstrfaoiColumMnrertriasrladhudliqu~r~butnat ka~ninc,totbose2Iandwer.The drinking age is 19 in New Y~20in~and2IinNew i d d, New Jascg fn reduchg trrffic fatal- iticsasaaeofthe~heaow~tp parred tks 1rqislaff.r~ *t dnnCmgageismtafadoranarpenT , k aid "Irs pmvco SUCCESS. plmhr(Eodto~kodBordasD l u ~ ~ - o n y t o d a ~ * ~ . The Drinking Age State by State ' .- Y w gfven ara dates of last legisiattvechange in drinkingago. Statms Uetedynderthe headings "18/21" and "1 9/21 " am tho= in which limited purchaseof alcohol, such a8 beer. I8 permitted at 18 or 19. HAWAII (1972) LA (19481 Vf. (1971) COLO. (1945) W. VA (19831 WIS. (1983) WYO. (19731 -. -- D.C!19jri OHIO (1982) KAN. (1949). MISS. (19661': S.C. (1935) " S.D.(1984) VA (1983) GA. (19801 IDAHO (19721 IOWA (1978) MINN. (1976) MOW. (1979) N.Y. (1982) TEXAS (1 8811 DEL (1983) . IL(1980) CONN. (1983) ME. (1 977) MASS. (1979) N.H. (1979) ALASKA (1983) ARIZ. *' (1984) ARK.(I 925) CAUF. (1933) ' ' IND. (1934) KY. (1 938) MD. (1 9821 MICH. (1978) M0. (1(145) NEB. (1984) NEV. (1 933) N.M. (1934) N.D. (1936) OKLA. (1983) ORE. (1933) PA. (1935) R.I. (1 984) 1ENN.f (1979) UTAH (1 935) WASH. (1934) - Drinklngage la 19 for tnld.ntr and 21 tor nonrddents. EffecUve Jan. 1,1985 Dam not apply to rnllltaryparsonndoff their bases or chlldnn eating with their parenm In nrteuranta RsaganrasjomedbyGovenmrICean of New Jem?y* a Republican, andSenator Frank R hutenberg of New Jersey, a Danocnt The Presfdem said ~rimofthe~lawwastoendthe cnsrcncs of "blood borders" when C c c P P g a s "drhk and then carem home aaid all too ohm cause crippling f.9laCddmtsS* Tb6PrcsidentsPidhew8a"Eoavfncsd.' tbal the IegwarAm aould "Wp pamade state legislators to act InthemtionnlinteruttosaveourchL1dm's lives, by raisrng the drinhng agetoPacmsjtheQ)ulltry.'*fiesaid he deplored the faa that fe!uer than half the statc~had already med. Mr. Reagan called the movement Pgainst drPnlrm driving part of "a reb i d d an Amaican tradition of leadaMp" in wkicb movements start fmm -mots levels. "It began in the community, it spmad to state govCZrrmCrrPI aod noar ~t'swon wide sup -kinour nation's capial," h He said some states, such a. Florida. ~prwingresistanttot!?e~ basuse people ooasdered it unfair to allow residenu to vote and serve in the armel servrces at the age of 18 but na todrink in public. 21 or Else Mandate Angers States By Eklae S. Krupp, editor tate officials are angry with the congressional ultimatum to raise the drinking age to 21 or lose highway funds. Even supporters of a higher drinking age resent the -federal "blackmail." There is talk of opposing the federal mandate and predictions that the heavy federal hand will make it difficult to raise the age in some states. Still, it is felt that the loss of federal funds will be too great for many states not to act. The 27 states with lower drinking ages could lose 5 percent of their federal highway funds-in f d 1986 and 10 percent in fiscal 1987. Withheld funds would be released once a state raised its drinking age, however. The measure slid quickly through Congress despite protests from state officials over the federal pre-rmption of state power. The federal proposal was termed a ''drastic pre-emption of state authority" by the chairman of The Council of State Governments (CSG), acting on behalf of CSG's Executive Committee. North Dakota Rep. Roy Hausauer, in a letter to the chief sponsor of the bill in the Senate, wrote that state officials strongly o p posed the bill "as a misuse of federal spending power through the.grant-in-aid system. In an era in which we expected to see more authority returned to the states, and in which more states are imposing tougher sanctions for drunk driving, federal preemption in this area is especially inappropriate." New York Sen. John J. Marchi, a CSG Executive Committee member, wrote U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker that although the objective of reducing highway deaths was laudable, the use of "legislative blackmail" was no?. The U.S. Senate, preferring the stick to the carrot, rejected a substitute measure to provide incentives for states that set the drinking age at 21. The majority disregarded the plea of U.S. Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey, R-N.H., who ask@, "Whm do we stop enlarging the power of the federal government and protect the sovereignty of the states?" U.S. Sen. Steven D. Syrnms,bR-Idaho, queried, "Do we have the right to force-feed our Washington wisdom down the mouths of our states?" Sen. Symms cited the "contradictory evidence" on the value of raising the drinking age and noted that the worst offenders were age 21 to 24. U.S. Sen. James McClure, R-Idaho, commented that the 4 State & ~ r n m n t News, August 1984 Congress believed it was smarter t'lan the 105 state legislators in Idaho who had turned down a higher drinking age in each of the past three years. He warned of the danger in a central government imposing a nrle that the "people in my state have said ** they do not want Also speaking against the proposal on federalism grounds were U.S. Senators Max Baucus, D-Mont., Daniel Evans, R-Wash., and Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. Sen. Baucus noted that the people of Montana had voted down a constitutional amendment to raise the drinking age to 21. . .. . State Laws Laws in 23 states provide for a 21-year-old drink- ing age for all alcoholic beverages. Another eight states and the District of Columbia have combination drinking ages, generally 21 for distilled spirits and 18 to 19 for beer and wine. The drinking age is 20 in four states, 19 in 12 states and 18 in three othen. Many states lowered the drinking age in the 19705, influenced by a constitutional amendment giving l&yearslds the right to vote and by the Vietnam War in which 18-year-olds fought and died. The trend in recent years, spurred by the movement against drunk driving, has been to raise the drinking age. From 1976 to 1983, 21 states raised their drinking ages (to 19, 20 or 21). Four stataArizona, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Tennessnpassed minimum 21-yearsld drinking ages in 1984 sessions. Rhode Island's and Tennessee's Iaws took effect this year; the rest take effect in 1985. The drinking age was raised to 21 by 1983 sessions in Alaska, Delaware, New Jersey and Oklahoma. A 1982 Maryland law will gradually raise the drinking age until it reaches 21 on July 1, 1985. The beer and wine drinking age was raised to 19 in South Carolina and South Dakota in 1984 sessions. In 1983, the drinking age was raised to 19 in West Virginia and Wisconsin, to 20 in Connecticut and to 19 for beer and wine in North Carolina and Virginia. New Hampshire in 1983 passed a measure to raise its drinking age to 21 when Maine and Massachusetts did likewise. In recent sessions, states have also cracked down on youthful drivers who drink. Wisconsin imposed an automatic W a y driver's license suspension on drivers under 19 with any alcohol in their blood. Conr 'd pg. 5 @ 1984 The Council of State Governments Reproducedby the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with permission of copyright claimant. 10 The measure, sponsored by Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., passed 81 to 16 on June 26. The Senate added provisions to increase highway safety funds by up to 5 percent for states that enact specified mandatory sentences for dr;nk drivers. States will be eligible if they mandate a %day license suspension and two days in jail or 100 hours of community service on a first offense; a one-year license suspension and 10 days in jail on a second . offense; a three-year license suspension and 120 days in jail on third offense, and a 30-day jail sentence for conviction of driving on a suspended, revoked or restricted license. The House gave final congressional approval to the bill June 28. The criteria for states to qualify for federal incentive grants in the new law is simiiar to that specified by 1982 legislation ("the Howard-Barnes bill"). H.R. 6170 offered grants totaling $125 million to states over three years beginning with fiscal 1983. As of July, 15 states qualified for Section 408 grants: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Isladd and Utah. Five of these have drinking ages of under 21. Withholding of federal highway funds from states without a 21-yearsld drinking age and the mandatory sentencing provisions for drunk drivers were among recommendations made by the Presi- Arizona, Iowa, Kentucky b d Maine will revoke the license of underage drivers who drink. Quick Federal Passage The quick passage.of the federal bill caught even supporters off guard. The measure moved swiftly through Congress after being attached to a $5 billion highway bill (H.R. 5504) by U.S. Rep. James J. Howard, D-N. J. Rep. Howard, chairman of the House Public Works and Transportation Committee, a decade ago played a key role in legislation that likewise penalized states unless they passed a 55 mph speed limit. After the amendment sailed through the House on a voice vote June 7, President Reagan reversed his position and supported the bill. Previously, the administration had argued that the law would be more effectively enforced if states acted voluntarily. However, June 13, Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Hanford Dole announced administration support for the legislation. She said that state "momentum appears to have stalled," noting that efforts to raise the drinking age to 21 failed in many states this year. According to the U.S. DOT, bills were introduced but failed to pass in 17 states to set a minimum age of 21. Bills are still pending in Louisiana and Massachusetts. Rather than approve the House-passed highway bill, the Senate passed the drinking age provision as an amendn~entto a child restraint bill (H.R. 4616). *Wat Virginia-21 Cont 'd pg. 6 for oulsf-rtale residenu. Note: Elfcctlve Jan. 1. 1985 in Arizona and Nebraska. South Gmlina beef and wine m y rises to 20 a i t a Jmn. 1. 1985. 19 -----11 20 'J'J'A~,','J~~' /I 21 Dbtilled 1 18 Beer?: 21 Distilled spldl~ 19 Beer. wine State Couernrnent News, Augwt 1984 . 3 dential Commission on Drunk Driving, chaired by John Volpe, in its final report last November. It also urged a comprehensive approach to curbing drunk driving. A minimum drinking age of 21 was also recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board in July 1982. These reports, supported by groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID),statistics on teenage drinking-driving accidents, and polls show: ing public support were cited by House and Senate sponyrs of the legislation. Border Crossings So-called "blood borders" which teenagers cross to legally buy liquor are a primary target of the federaj legislation. Sen. Lautenberg said New Jersey had a problem ':known as border-slaughter, because our neighboring state of New York has a lower legal minimum." The presidential commission concluded only a uniform drinking age would sohe the problem of teenagers crossing state lines to drink. U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., cited the recent defeat of a "21 bill" by the New York Legislature as evidence "that not all states will act on their own." He dedared, "Surely the national interest in protecting the lives of our young people outweighs the states' interest in setting a drinking age lower than 21 years." The Coaiition of Northeast Governors (CONEG) had resolved in December to work for a regional uniform minimum drinking age. The minimum age is 21 in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, but is 20 in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, and 19 in New York. A major lobbying effort by New York Gov. Mario Cuomo failed to push through a higher age limit this session, however. A poll of CONEG states in midJune showed concern with "pre-emption and the withholding of federal monies" under the federal measure. Crossover Sanctions Drastic Remedy Both congressional sponsors denied the federal legislation was a mandate to states. Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Howard called their measures a means "to encourage" states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21. Rep. Howard said his amendment "allows each state to make its own determination on whether to raise the drinking age," and then face the loss of federal funds if it did not. Sen. Lautenberg said it was "the same approach taken to enforce the 55 mph speed limit." Acknowledging the bill was "strong medicine" and that he was reluctant to-deny federal aid to states, Sen. Lautenberg concluded it was necessary to savt lives. The parallel with the 55 mph national speec limit was also cited by U.S. Rep. Glenn Anderson D-Calif., who said the approach was effective because sanctions have not been used yet. Loss of federal funds in one program for inaction in another area is called a "crossover" sanction. This method was also used to force states to adopt billboard controls as required by the 1965 Highway Beautification Act. However, the DOT did not threaten states with loss of aid until several years after the 1968 deadline for compliance. Only South Dakota lost federal highway funds over the billboard issue. In contrast, states acted within months after federal legislation passed in 1974 to withhold highway funds from states without 55 mph speed limits. However, enforcement proved a problem and a federal requirement for compliance by 70 percent of drivers was later changed to 50 percent. All states are in compliance and no federal aid has been withheld. However, states resisted the federally mandated speed limit. In 1981, 29 states considered legislation to repeal the limit. Some states responded by imposing fines as low as $5 for exceeding the 55 mph limit. Crossover sanctions are viewed as severe remedies and, further, make states angry. Implementation of them can run into political trouble for federal agencies. For instance, Congress took away the power of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to withhold aid from states without motorcycle helmet laws. The possibility of further federal intrusion into state responsibilities was raised by U.S. DOT Secretary Doyle July 11. She said that the choice might be between mandatory state seat belt legislation and a federal requirement for air bags in motor vehicles. . State Reactions The federal drinking age measure is viewed by state officials as another pre-emption of state authority. However, state officials have mixed feelings. Many agree with the concept of a 21-year-old drinking age or with at least a uniform drinking age. The disagreement is with the federal method to achieve it. The use of federal sanctions is seen as a big federal stick by states. For many, the issue is not the merit of a higher drinking age, but roughshod misuse of federal power. Estimates prepared by the Department of Transportation show that the 27 states and the District of Columbia with drinking ages below 21 could lose $203.7 million the first year of sanctions and double that the second year. Immediate reaction from Conr 'd pg. 7 some was that states "had no choice" and would have to raise the drinking age to keep from losing millions in federal aid. Others, however, called for state resistance to the federal mandate. Connecticut, which has a %year-old drinking age, but which shares a border with New York where the age is 19, came close this ycar to tying its age to adjacent states, reported Rep. Timothy J. Moynihan. Rep. Moynihan was CSG c h a h a n in 1983. However, New York left its age at 19 and Rhode Island raised its age to 21. Because it is so easy to travel among the Northeastern states, the different drinking ages are a real problem, Rep. Moynihan noted. He added that Connecticut is unlikely to change its law until New York raises its age. Although he does not think the federal government should be involved in state issues, Rep. Moynihan noted that sometimes states cannot act on an issue and that the minimum age will "keep border crossings to a minimum." He added that Connecticut probably would not be in violation of the 1986 deadline and that the trend was toward a higher drinking age. Iowa has turned down a 21-year-old drinking age five times since 1972, noted Speaker Don Avenson. However, the vote was close this past session in the House. The 1984 session did pass a tough dmnk driving law, including a provision to revoke the license of drivers under age 19 who drink and drive. The pressure to raise the drinking age has been building, Speaker Avenson said, fueled by statistics of alcohol-reiated deaths among young drivers. However, the feeling was that persons with the responsibility of adulthood at age 18 ought also to have the privileges of adulthood. As far as the federal law is concerned, Speaker Avenson said that most legislators were relieved that the political decision was taken out of their hands, but were angry at the federal pre-emption of state powers. "Personally, I am very upset," Speaker Avenson said. "I am tired of federal mandates in areas I believe the constitution reserves to the states." Iowa most likely will pass the 21-yearold drinking age within the next two years, he predicted. Likewise, mandatory seat beits will eventually be required by the state. but similar federal pressure would not help passage, he said. "These preemptions can only go on so long before there's a backlash," the speaker concluded. Ohio Sen. Pres. Harry Meshel is opposed to federal sanctions and called for "states with like minds to join together and challenge this." He said it was time that the federal government quit "putting blackmail hooks" on fcderal funds. Many states in the Midwest and East are already not receiving their share of highway trust funds, Sen. Meshel said. He commented that the issue of teenagers crossing borders to drink was not a problem in every state and not a statewide problem in many. Border crossings alone were not good reason for nationwide legislation, he said. In addition, Ohio voters last ycar soundly defeated a measure to raise the beer drinking age from 19 to 21. Sen. Meshel said that resentment over the federal mandate had been expressed by the governor and legislators. He noted that it would be difficult to raise the drinking age, and that there was not time to review the merit of a higher age. "How many state prerogatives is the federal government going to erode?" Sen. Meshel asked. He urged unity among the states to oppose the federal mandate. The mood now in Wyoming is not to raise the minimum age, said Rep. Patrick H. Meenan. Saying he was "appalled" by the federal mandate, Rep. Mecnan declared that raising the drinking age was not the issue, but the "federal government sticking its nose in state" affairs was. "I was surprised; it seems contrary to everything Reagan said he would do, as far as states' rights," Rep. Meenan said of the federal sanctions. Wyoming legislators have defeated bills to raise the drinking age from 19 which is also the age of majority there. Other arguments were that a higher drinking age would deny jobs to youth in restaurants and lounges and that it is better to have youth drink in licensed places "than out on the prairie." Neither did Wyoming legislators feel a higher age would reduce highway deaths, because 21- to yearsld drivers are more of a problem. Rep. eenan noted that there was quite a bit of sentiment to raise the drinking age, due to concern over drunk driving. However, the state did further tighten its drunk driving laws. He noted that the U.S. DOT lobbidd hard for a higher age in Wyoming and other states, and speculates that the DOT focused its efforfs in Congress after states refused to go along with it. "Everyone talks bravely" now about not going along, but that could change as the loss of federal funds nears, Rep. Meenan acknowledged. Still, he wonders "what would happen if all states told them to jump in the lake." Georgia House Speaker Thomas B. Murphy called the federal measure a "form of blackmail." He sees the recent action by DOT Secretary Doyle as another move to "blackmail the states into passing mandatory seat belts." Speaker Murphy said, "If Congress cannot accomplish something, it blackmails the states into doing it." Speaker Murphy predicted that most states, including Georgia, C Conr 'd pg. 8 State Couernment News, August I984 12 7 Merits of Lower Age Debated tatistics are cited by both sides in legislative battles over the. drinkirig age. The U.S. DOT estimates that over the last 10 years, 250,000 Americans lost their lives in alcoholrelated crashes. Most dangerous is the time between midnight and 4 a.m. when a majority of fatally $jured drivers had been drinking. The average blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of arrested drunk drivers is 2 0 percent, double the legal limit in most states. "lit an era in which we expected to see more authority returned to the states, and in which more states are imposing tougher sanctions for drunk driving, federal pre-emption in this area is espec i d y inappropriate. " CSG Cbrimua Rep. Roy H a w q e r The presidential commission, in recommending a drinking age of 21, cited a study indicating that 730 young lives would be saved if all states had a 21-year-old minimum age. , Frequently cited by proponents of raising. the legal limit is a 1981 study by the Insurance Institute 21 or Ehe Cont 'd would raise the drinking age rather than lose millions in highway funds. A bill to raise the drinking age from 19 to 21 in Georgia failed to get out of committee in the 1984 session. "I was opposed to it," the speaker declared. He noted that 18-yearolds were old enough to fight for their country, inherit and buy property, but "can't spend 75 cents on a beer." In Virginia, where a measure to raise the legal age for beer from 19 failed this session, Gov. Charles S. Robb, a proponent of the higher age, cafled the federal action coercive. "There are states' rights issues involved," Gov. Robb said. An opponent of the higher age, Virginia Sen. Peter K. Babalas, said the state would not "have much choice if we want federal highway funds. " for Highway Safety. Out of nine states that raised their minimum age, eight showed reductions ranging from 6 to 75 percent in fatal crashes for younger drivers. Only Montana had no net reduction. The study concluded that a state that raises its drinking age can expect a drop of 28 percent in nighttime fatal crashes for the affected age group. However, those under 21 may not be the worst offenders. Between 40 percent and 55 percent of drivers killed in crashes had BACs of ,lo percent or higher in 1981, according to a 1982 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The report showed that of fatally injured drivers, 42 percent of those 16 to 19-years-old were legally T h e s e pre-emptions can only go on so long before there's a backlash. " Iowa S-er Doa Avemoa drunk, 54 percent of those 20 to 24-years-old were and 59 percent of those 25 to 34 were drunk. Vermont Gov. Richard Snelling, who has vetoed efforts to raise the drinking age, cited a study in the New England Journai of Medicine. It showed that Massachusetts experienced no dedina in fatalities attributed to drinking when it increased the drinking age. Gov. Snelling maintained that while states that raised the drinking age have had lower fataiities for a year or two, other states, such as VerCont 'd pg. 10 ?7 F? 2'1 !.?. s-51 93. rcr I't 9.c. . ~. ... ... !.'f 6'6 !'?! ... 97. ... FS . . ~ t-s Y?! 8.6 . ~ . 67 f'f ! F5 1.9. .,. C't 8's I'LI F'tT 5'1 1'6 ... ... ... ... tower Age Cont 'd "If Congress cannot accomplish something, it blackmails the states into doing it. " mont, have had even greater reductions in fatalities. He said that tougher law enforcement and public education cause highway fatalities to fall. Gov. Snelling opposes the federal mandate for states to raise their drinking age. Vermont is one of three states with an l&year-old drinking age. Geargin S p d e r Thomas B. Murphy home rule units. The 1980 law also conformed 11Linois' drinking age with neighboring Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri. However, the report noted that the law might "have increased the tendency for the 1% and 20-year-olds to drive from Illinois to lowa or Wisconsin to legally drink." Recent Results Most recently, the U.S. DOT cited figures from New Jersey, which raised its legal drinking age from 19 to 21 years in January 1983. There was a rcduction of 26 percent in nighttime single vehicle driver fatalities for the 19- and 20-year-old age group. In states where drinking ages have been raised in recent years, declines in accidents are attributed to comprehensive approaches to drunk driving as well as a higher minimum' age. Maryland has seen a "dramatic reduction in highway deaths" of some 25 percent, reported Wayne McDaniel, executive aide to Gov. Harry Hughes. A 1982 law which phased-in over two years a drinking age of 21 might be part of the reason, McDaniei said. He added that Maryland had cracked down on drunk driving in many ways. McDaniel said that despite the state's comprehensive, effective campaign against drunk driving, it probably would not qualify for the new federal incentive grants. He suggested that instead of requiring state legislation, federal'incen- Pros, Cons Opponents of a higher drinking age point out that those old enough to vote, enlist in the armed forces, serve on juries, marry and be legally responsible for their own actions as adults, also should be allowed to drink alcohol. Opponents also maintain that raising the drinking age will not stop youths from drinking. A nationwide survey found that the same proportion of high school students drank in states where the legal age was 21 as in states where it was lower. Critics also maintain that all young people should not be denied alcohol because a few abuse the right to drink. Another argument is that 21- to 24-year-oids are involved in more drunk driving accidents than the younger age group and that denying alcohol to any age group would cause some reduction in accidents. Some researchers and others also question the use of accident statistics to make causal connections between drinking and accidents. They maintain that other factors may well account for the crashes. The major argument raised for a higher minimum drinking age has been that it would reduce highway deaths and accidents. Among other arguments are that it would reduce alcoholism among young people because young legal drinkers obtain alcohol for underage friends and that it would decrease juvenile crime. Wisconsin raised its drinking age to 19 on July 1. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Herbert J. Grover, in urging the 1983 legislature to act, said that there were "13,000 alcoholics between the ages and 67 percent of Wisconsin's of 13 and 19 12th grade students will reach the legal drinking age of 18 prior to graduating from high school . . . ' He added that while drivers under age 21 comprise 12 percent of the driving population, they account for over U)percent of the state's drunk driving convictions. Nearly 30 percent of the drivers killed in Wisconsin car crashes who were legally drunk were under the age of 21. "How many state prerogatives is the federal government going to erode?" Ohio Sen. Pm. HMJ Muhd tives should be based on results, including a reduced fatality rate. He added, "That's not the way the (federal) law's written." A general crackdown on drunk driving as well as a higher drinking age have contributed to a decline in traffic deaths in Oklahoma, according to Delbert Kames, program manager for Highway Safety. He cited prevention programs with teenagers which emphasize peer pressure. An Illinois Department of Transportation report credits the raised drinking age with a decline in accidents for drivers 20 and younger. It estimates that 55 deaths and 2,750 non-fatal accidents have been prevented in the three years since the law took effect in January 1980. The drinking age for beer and wine was 19 from October 1W3 through December 1979. While overall driver-accident fatalities fell by nearly 14 percent, the reduction was 1.5 times greater for drivers age 20 and under (21.7 percent). In addition, the 1980 Illinois law required all local governments to follow the 21-year-old minimum. Previously, minimum ages varied among 10 State Counntnmt News, August 1984 ... . 16 1