Friday, November 15, 2013

To Puerto Rico: Don't Raise the Drinking Age!

There has been a recent proposal in Puerto Rico to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.  If it passes, it would leave only the Virgin Islands as the last remaining holdout where the drinking age is 18, since Guam raised it to 21 in 2010 (much to our chagrin).  Aside from the tired old canards about "safety" and "protecting young people" (from themselves), there is also that pesky 10% highway funding penalty that Puerto Rico has had to deal with every year since 1988, and their flagging economy can clearly use a boost.  And this was not the first time such a hike in the drinking age was proposed:  in the 1990s, there were two failed attempts to raise the drinking age to 21, which most of the people did not support.

While we believe that such a law is unlikely to pass, Twenty-One Debunked would still like to urge the island to avoid making the same mistakes as the mainland.  That is, Puerto Rico should keep the drinking age at 18, while strengthening and enforcing it better.  To do so, they should:
  • Increase retailer compliance checks to help keep booze out of the hands of people under 18.
  • Increase the penalties for selling or furnishing alcohol to people under 18.
  • Increase alcohol education programs in schools and elsewhere.
  • Bring back the successful community coalitions formed in the 1990s to fight underage drinking and other alcohol problems.
  • Crack down harder on drunk driving, drunk violence, and drunk and disorderly conduct among all ages.
  • To reduce traffic deaths and other alcohol-related problems, and raise much-needed revenue at the same time, raise the alcohol taxes (especially beer) and the gas tax.
  • Above all, never back down.
Puerto Rico has already seen great success in reducing underage drinking and traffic deaths since the 1980s, and they did so without raising the drinking age one iota.  They should continue to build on the successes of the past in order to have a better future.  And it is completely unnecessary to violate anyone's civil rights to do so.


  1. Hopefully, that ageist legislator's bill will be abandoned. It's great that Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a drinking age of 18. While some states and territories are going backwards when it comes to the drinking age, Puerto Rico is a beacon of respecting a young woman or a young man's right to drink alcoholic beverages responsibly. I got the following information from the National Youth Rights Association. In Alabama, there's a campaign by organizations and the state government against "underage" drinking. In Pennsylvania, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given to fight "underage" drinking by students at Penn State. Despite these backward attempts, our movement is right so it can defeat ageism that is allowing the ageist drinking age to be popular. Puerto Rico's government can make more progress in increasing alcohol responsibility as said in this article. The truth is that those mechanisms work which is why a drinking age of 21 is always oppression.

    1. Puerto Rico is a Great American Success Story when it comes to alcohol. The rest of the nation could learn a lot from their approach to alcohol, which is impossible with an age limit of 21.

  2. Agreed, the rest of the United States should follow what Puerto Rico has done when it comes to the drinking age.