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Monday, August 27, 1984
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Busin Advertising 962-1163
and at what a
o aniiK or
By MICKEY EWELL
By a vote of 81 to 16, the U.S. Senate on June 26 effectively
removed a state's right to determine its own purchasing age
for " alcoholic beverages. The vote was the final step in an
emotional campaign to force the states to enact a drinking age
of 2 1 . States will have two years to raise the minimum purchasing
age to 21. Those states that fail to comply will lose 5 percent
of their federal highway construction funding in the third year
and 10 percent in the fourth year. The Senate measures will
also provide grants to those states which adopt mandatory
sentencing for drunken-driving convictions. Those states that
establish these penalties for offenders would receive increases
in their highway safety funds of up to 5 percent:
Loss of license for 90 days and two days in jail on the
Loss of license for one year and 90 days in jail on the second
Loss of license for three years and 120 days in jail on the
This is the law that is now in effect.
Some of us in the restaurant industry are very aware of the
problems related to alcohol. I feel that the government
overloaded some very important facts when they voted on this
highly emotional issue.
Will college students really stop drinking? Age aside, did
prohibition work? 1 think we know the answers to these
questions. We're not dealing with children here; we're dealing
with young adults who understand reason: Since the Safe Roads
Act was enacted in North Carolina last fall, we have seen a
more responsible attitude toward drinking and driving from
people of all ages.
Instead of having Congress telling the states at what age they
should allow people to drink legally, there should be an increase
in the number of private groups to educate the public on the
dangers of alcohol abuse. Public awareness and an attempt to
change people's attitudes is what will bring about results.
What will this legislation lor a mgner annicing age aor i
feel that it will force adults of ages 18 to 20 back into their
cars a private place away from the scrutiny of peers or parents'
for cruisiag and drinking. It will put them in the "uncontrolled
environment" of private parties where alcohol will be consumed
and will make outlaws out of young adults who would otherwise
be considered assets to their communities.
The real results of this new legislation may not be what our
buddies up in D.C. anticipate. Many individuals including
congressmen have been emotionally influenced by well
intentioned but misleading statistics and have failed to recognize
the experiences of states like Maine and Florida where increases
in the drinking age have resulted in no decreases in alcohol
related road deaths involving youths Raising th.edrinking age -
See LOWER on page 6
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Saving lives is
By BEN PERKOWSKI
A national drinking age should be set at 21, not because
it is a cure-all to the vast problem of drunken driving, but because
it is the most effective and readily applicable means by which
something can be done to save the lives of a large number
of this nation's youth. -
The Presidential Commission on Drunken Driving has
reported that although 16-to-24-year-olds make up only 20
percent of all 4icensed drivers, they are involved in 42 percent
of fatal alcohol-related accidents. The National Safety Council
estimates that 730 lives a year could be saved with a national
drinking age of 2 X.
Setting a national drinking age of 21 would not stop all people
under 21 from drinking, it would not keep them all off the
roads if they have been drinking and it would limit the privileges
of a Targe percentage of people under 21 who do drink
responsibly There's no question that the legislation is not a
perfect solution to the problem of teenage drunken driving. But
it is clear that the higher age would save the lives of a substantial
number of young people and their innocent victims. This is
the primary justification for the legislation.
There can't be a single person who doesn't want to save human
lives. Yet there are many opposed to a higher national drinking
age. They say that drinking is not the problem, drunken driving
is therefore cracking down on drunken drivers (such as North
Carolina's tough Safe Roads Act) is the best solution. Although
tougher drunken driving laws might lead to a short-term
reduction in the number of drunken drivers, pretty soon the
scare effect would wear off and people would continue to drive
while intoxicated, confident of not being caught.
In an ideal world, tougher law enforcement, a vast educational
blitz warning of the hazards of drinking and driving, and better
parental control would be enough to stop teenagers from going
out, getting drunk and driving home. The truth is that counting
on such measures to do the trick is wishful thinking. On the
other hand, there's no doubt that raising the drinking age would
strongly discourage people under 21 from drinking and driving.
It would simply and effectively make it harder to go out
somewhere, purchase alcohol, get drunk and try to make it
A widely recognized social phenomenon of the twentieth
century relates to this issue: Bars and clubs serving alcohol have
become a kind of mecca for those looking to socialize. In most
cases and especially in large metropolitan areas these bars
and clubs are driving distance from people's homes. So, people
drive to these places, often drink too much and then see little
choice but to get in their cars and set out for home. In a depressing
number of cases, they end up as further examples of alcohol
related highway fatalities.
- - - See RAISE on page 6 -
Drinking is the symptom, a maladjusted society the ill
By FRANK BRUNI
Talk about the raising of the legal drinking age
has traditionally centered around the problems
incurred by the hazardous combination of
teenagers and alcohol on roads, in schools, in
poverty-ridden, vandalism-wrecked urban areas..
That a higher percentage of road deaths linked
to drunken driving can be attributed to youths
under 21 (the age to which Congress has requested
all states raise their legal drinking ages) than to
any other age group of similar size is a cause for
grave concern, as is the incidence of violent crime
linked to intoxicated teens and, to a lesser extent,
the phenomenon of teen-age alcoholism. Making
alcohol more inaccessible is perceived as one way
to curb this tragic trend. And while legislation to
raise the drinking age in all states to a uniform
21 may accomplish just that, there are many truths
about human nature and changes in American
society that this proposed legislation overlooks, or
simply fails to comprehend. .
The lowest drinking age in any state in this nation
is 18, yet we have many teenagers who begin
drinking at the ages of 12, 13, 14. And there are
societies with no legally-imposed minimum age for
drinking that have little or no problem with alcohol
abuse among the young. It is not the availability
of alcohol that promotes its abuse among the
young, among the not-so-young Mn this country.
It is something more: a cultural preoccupation
with self-destruction, an age-old yearning for
escape, a degeneration, especially over the last two
decades, of those institutions with which we have
traditionally invested the responsibilities of
inculcating in our children conventional morality,
a sense of respect for the law and prudence in
everyday living. That we should fail to recognize
these unflattering truths in enacting legislation that
would lessen the problem of alcohol abuse among
the young by throwing obstacles in the way of
would-be drinkers, who will likely retain the desire
to drink and manifest it as destructively as they
might have at 18 when they reach 21, is yet another
example of our society's reliance on the expedient
when any more thoughtful, lasting approach would
be difficult. In that sense, raising the minimum
drinking age in states to a uniform 21 is both a
vivid example of politicians' willingness to look
at a complex problem in a shallow manner if it
appeases the desires of voters and a testimony to
the shortcomings of the American political system.
As with any forbidden act in a society that touts
free will and liberty, the appeal of alcohol to those
beneath the de jur, but seldom de facto, drinking
age is formidable. To drink illegally is a pretense
of maturity, an irresistible and often delightful
flouting of the rules. It will remain so no matter
how high we raise the drinking age. And no matter
how high we raise it, youths will find avenues
through which they can attain alcohol. Where
there's a will, we have been told by parents and
teachers who had more meaningful quests in mind,
there's a way. In a nation dedicated to upward
mobility and free enterprise, the creed is especially
powerful, and it, like everything else, has a darker
side. A side that encourages youths as well as
adults to eye sceptically any rule impeding one's
desires. And for youths whose films and television
programs make light of drunkeness and whose
adult role models drink alcohol, the desire to drink
must seem an especially legitimate one.
The institutions in our society which once
dedicated themselves to the nurturing of attitudes
constructive to a society's way of life the home
and schools, in particular; the church, as well
have largely degenerated over the last two decades.
The American nuclear family has undergone some
radicai changes; the number of single-parent homes
in which, that parent carries the dual burdens of
financial, support and child-raising has increased
dramatically, as has the number of homes in which
both parents work. This trend might not be so
potentially damaging to the psychological health
of our nation's young if it hadn't occurred so rapidly
and with so little anticipation from both the public
and private sectors, neither of which have been
able to provide reliable day-care facilities to the
extent which they are needed. The horror stories
of day-care facilities that have exploited their
hapless youngsters for the purposes of child
pornography are, of course, the hideous exceptions,
but they are telling, if hyperbolic, anecdotes of the
dearth of quality facilities in this country. While
many Europeans have fine government-subsidized
institutions to assist with the care of their children,
a disturbing number of Americans must resort to
the employment of young teen-agers and illegal
immigrants for the babysitting of their offspring.
Our nation's schools, which are responsbile for
the education in most cases intellectual, but in
some cases moral of our young, are beleaguered.
t The insistently low salaries we pay teachers,
coupled with the high cost of living, have made
teaching a more and more economically impossible
profession. Many of the best would-be teachers
are lured after college graduation into more
lucrative professions, and the nation's children are
the ones who suffer.
If today's youth seem a bit worse adjusted
less respectful of the law, more desiring of the
escape offered by alcohol and drugs, more defiant
in their insistence upon enjoying the same privileges
as adults it's little wonder. The support systems
available to them are fewer. Moreover, we are living
in an age of pessimism, of diminished expectations.
How many of today's youths aspire realistically
to make more than our parents did? How many
of us see around us a world that has grown so
complex in its management of human affairs that
we feel befuddled, somewhat powerless? The
apotheosis of this pessimism is the frightening and
by no means ridiculous possibility of a nuclear
apocalypse. Today's youths are among the first to
grow up in the face of such possible doom.
The view offered here is an admittedly melo
dramatic one, but the point remains: alcohol abuse
See ABUSE page 5
Last month President Reagan signed legislation that requires states to pass within two years a minimum
drinking age of 21 or lose federal money for highway projects. Do you think the drinking age should be 21?
'it O, S"
- x -n
Senior psychology major
from Ithaca, N.Y.
" think you should probably raise the
drinking age. Highways are very
important. It's kind of an unusual
stipulation, but if that 's what he ( Reagan)
has to- do, it should be done. I guess the
drinking age and highways are
lXt2'' ar , r
Senior recreation administration
major from St. Clemmons
"I have mixed feelings. I think raising
the drinking age is good, but kids are
still able to get alcohol no matter how
old they are. so I don't know what it
will accomplish. "
M ' - - '" , y.
. , s ' ' '
Freshman journalism major
" really wouldn't matter if the
drinking age were 21 because students
are going to get alcohol anyway, so I
don't think raising the drinking age is
going to help the problem. "
Senior political science .
major from Charlotte
"No. I don't think the national
drinking age should be raised to 21. I
think it should be 19 because many high
school seniors are irresponsible. If it was
raised to 19, it would cut out drinking
until people at least get to college or out
of high school. "
", ', 4v'
Freshman business major
"No. I guess I feel if you're considered
to be an adult at 18, you should be
allowed to drink. "
Senior biology major
" have a very hard time saying either
yes or no because there are so many pros
and cons. Even though there are lots of
teen-age deaths associated with drinking,
at the same time there are lots of young
adults between 19 and 21 who are