Drinking Age Debate: Should the Minimum Legal Drinking Age be Lowered for Adults Under the Age of 21?

A debate about this important issue was recently held at St. Mary's Hall in San Antonio, Texas. Students selected the topic for the annual debate at the selective private school and it was they who organized it.

Lieutenant Christina M. Guerra, recently retired from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and now a private alcohol consultant, favored keeping the current law and stressed that persons under the age of 21 can legally drink with their parents. She noted that surprisingly few parents in Texas realize that they can legally teach their children how to drink in moderation in this way.

Barry Seaman, a former editor for Time magazine and author of Binge: Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess, lived on a number of college campuses in researching his award-winning book. He argued that lowering the drinking age along with instituting other changes could reduce alcohol abuse.

Lizette Villarreal, Assistant Director of the South Texas Poison Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, argued that the current law is effective and that increasing enforcement would improve compliance. She urged that we maintain the legal status quo.

David J. Hanson, Professor Emeritus of the State University of New York at Potsdam, suggested that qualified adults age 18-20 be issued graduated drinking learner permits analagous to the driving learner permits currently used to teach safe driving.

All of the participants agreed that effective education about alcohol is essential to reducing the abuse of alcohol by people of any age.

Chris Marrou, popular head news anchor at KENS 5 television in San Antonio, moderated the debate.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) declined repeated invitations to participate in this important discussion.


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