Skip to main content

Expert Who Helped Raise Drinking Age to 21 Now Regrets it

One of the people who was instrumental in getting the drinking age raised to 21 in the United States now calls it "the single most regrettable decision" of his career.

Dr. Morris Chafetz is a psychiatrist who was picked to be on a presidential commission in the 1980s to study teen drinking. The panel recommended raising the drinking age from 18 to 21-years-old. Then-President Reagan agreed, and on July 17th, 1984, he signed the bill into law.

To mark the 25th anniversary, Chafetz has written an editorial that he is currently shopping around for publication. But he gave an advance copy to a group called Choose Responsibility, which advocates a return of the drinking age to 18.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chafetz writes in the piece: "Legal Age 21 has not worked. To be sure, drunk driving fatalities are lower now than they were in 1982. But they are lower in all age groups. And they have declined just as much in Canada, where the age is 18 or 19, as they have in the United States."

Chafetz said the law instead has resulted in "collateral, off-road damage" such as binge drinking by teens, and crimes like date rape, assaults and property damage.

None of this surprises Choose Responsibility. On its website, the group says:

"Current drinking laws infantilize young adults. We should not be surprised, then, by infantile behavior from otherwise responsible adults."

The group wants to see 18-20-year-olds treated as adults:

"We support a series of changes that will allow 18-20 year-old adults to purchase, possess and consume alcoholic beverages.

"We propose a multi-faceted approach that combines education, certification, and provisional licensing for 18-20 year-old high school graduates who choose to consume alcohol."

Read the debate on the Drinking Age be Lowered From 21?


Popular Video