Oh This Is A Good Idea

When a large percentage of vehicle fatalities in South Dakota are alcohol related with an even larger percentage of teen and young adult fatalities related to alcohol, what does Bill Napoli want our federal lawmakers to do? How about removing the highway fund provisions making states set the drinking age to 21 so that South Dakota can lower the drinking age.

The Rapid City Republican wants U.S. Sen. John Thune to lead an effort in Congress to repeal or amend a 1984 federal law that required states to establish 21 as their minimum drinking age or face the loss of millions of dollars every year in federal highway funds.

“It’s a horrendous law,” Napoli said. “This has been an issue of mine for a very long time. I think the issue has lain dormant long enough.”

I wonder if Napoli consulted with law enforcement agencies before bringing this up again and of course he uses the tired excuse that if they are old enough to fight for our country they are old enough to handle alcohol.

“I think the Iraq war has really brought home that we need to take a very serious look at this issue,” he said. “We’re losing 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds over there all the time fighting to save our country, our way of life, our people’s lives. They come home from war more mature and having seen more than many of us sitting in our easy chairs. And we’re telling them they’re not mature enough to drink?”

Why do I think this is a poor excuse? How does because I used it myself when I was a 19 and 20 year old sailor stationed in Great Lakes and enjoyed taking the short hop up Route 32 to Kenosha to get drunk almost every weekend. At that time Illinois was a 21 state while Wisconsin still allowed 18 year olds to buy alcohol. I now realize that I was young, stupid, and more than anything else, very lucky.

Going to war does change your life, I cannot argue with Napoli on that point, I just don’t see how that correlates to an 18 year old being able to drink responsibly. It’s hard enough for some 50 year olds to figure this out and some never do so how’s an 18 or 19 year old fresh out of high school supposed to? I also believe that there are many 19 year olds that are mature enough to drink but is making them wait 2 years for the privilege worth the possible consequences?

Think about this Bill, those headlights from that drunk driver crossing the median one night could be aimed at your car some time, do you really want to greatly increase the chances of that happening just so you can allow 19 and 20 year olds the chance to legally drink a few years earlier? Patience is a virtue, let our youngsters learn that before turning them loose in the local watering holes…and then our highways.

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