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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Lowering the 21 Drinking Age Law “a Giant Step Backward”

State Highway Safety Agencies Prepare to Repel Any Repeal

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently released a statement that strongly supports the 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA). "We are dismayed that some college and university presidents have signed onto an initiative aimed at repealing this life-saving law," said GHSA Chairman Christopher J. Murphy. "Both research and the hands-on experience of state highway safety agencies indicate that this law has saved countless lives. Underage drinking remains a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but lowering the drinking age would be a gigantic step backward for highway safety."

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research reveals that the current 21 MLDA has reduced deaths involving drivers 18 to 20 years old by 13 percent, and saves roughly 900 lives annually.

According to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), postponing young adult drinking contributes to reductions in future alcohol problems, including alcohol dependence, binge drinking and alcohol-associated traffic crashes, injuries, fatalities and violence. Moreover, NIH research has shown that lifetime alcohol dependence decreased markedly as a function of increasing age at the onset of alcohol consumption.

At their Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, GHSA will sponsor a workshop to help highway safety agencies thwart any effort in their states to lower the drinking age. Researchers and experts from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and others will share their analysis and pointers for preserving the current drinking age.

GHSA will continue to make the case that 21 has been effective, and will vigorously oppose any repeal effort as Congress prepares to reauthorize the federal highway legislation.

"I would be glad to speak to any college and university presidents and share with them why 21 has been an important highway safety law," said Chairman Murphy.

For a listing of college and university presidents that want to rethink the drinking age, visit

To read GHSA's official drinking age policy, visit

To read GHSA's arguments against lowering the drinking age on the new policy debate website Opposing Views, visit (

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