Vote, Fight, Drink – Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad
Prominent local leaders respond to the issue of lowering the drinking age to 18.
Earlier this month, candidates running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United State were asked:
"Would any of the candidates favor ending the practice of using federal highway funds to strongarm states into setting higher drinking ages—on the theory that it is wrong to ‘trust [18 year olds] to make life and death decisions in the military’ but not to drink responsibly?"
All the candidates responded in favor of not lowering the drinking age, except for Dennis Kucinich (who wants to lower it to 16) and Mike Gravel. So what do those who enforce the laws, and watch over most of the 18-20 year olds in Westchester think? Here’s a sampling:
Doug Crossett, owner of Michael’s Tavern in Pleasantville – "I want to find a responsible way to make people happy on both sides of the aisle and I have a great idea. The drinking age should be lowered to 19, not 18. But! If we are going to let 19 year olds drink then we should make them pay for it and give them training. If, and only if, they’ve taken and paid for a course on alcohol and the physical effects of it would a 19 year old be able to get a license that allows him to consume alcohol. Further, if a bartender wants to serve 19 year olds, the bar owner has to take a course, and he has to pay for it. This generates revenue for enforcement and monitoring, and provides education to the bar owner and the staff, and creates a special relationship with the liquor authority and police. As things stand now, kids cannot drink in bars and the cops are raiding house parties. So where are kids drinking? In their cars.
Brandon Dawson, Dean of Students at Manhattanville College and County Co-chair of the Westchester County College Consortium for Alcohol and Other Drugs – "I wholeheartedly believes that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. We should lower the drinking age and raise the driving age."
Brian, Manager of the Porter House in White Plains – "I come from Europe where the drinking age is 18. There is a positive and negative side but 18 should be the drinking age. The driving is a big concern but there are awareness programs from the alcohol companies and people can always get designated drivers."
Pace University Vice President of Student Affairs Darnita Killian – "The drinking age should remain at 21. Student have such a close connection with their parents, and our interaction with parents would go up even more if the drinking age was lowered, because I think they would try and manage what their young ones are doing regarding drinking, and they would want to known whether the university would contact them if they found out their children was drinking.”
Peekskill Police Detective Sergeant Eric Johansen – "I personally understand all the arguments for lowering the drinking age. You can vote at 18, serve in the military at 18, but emotionally individuals are not ready at that age to use alcohol. As it stands now, since the age was raised, it has reduced the number of drinking related deaths and DUIs. There is research that teenagers' number one cause of death is traffic accidents and alcohol only enhances that.
If we lower the age, we are saying it’s ok to drink, and we are putting people who are not emotionally ready at a risk they do not need to be in. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and leads to other issues as well including unwanted pregnancies, women becoming victims of sex crimes, and disorderly behavior. We’ve conditioned people at the age of 18 that they are not ready to drink and we shouldn’t be going backwards."
Greenburgh Chief of Police John Kapica – "Lowering the drinking age is a bad idea. Statistics done by the National Highway Safety Administration show that youngster’s live are saved by an increased drinking age. I think that the notion [that it’s a better idea to have kids drinking at home with parents and at bars] is nonsense. Who’s going to drive them home? Plus, when he is 15 he has a higher probably of ending up with a serious drinking problem."