Sunday, August 31, 2014

Think Globally, Act Locally

We clearly face an uphill battle to lower the legal drinking age to 18, no doubt about that.  So what can we do in the meantime, besides pressure the government to lower the drinking age?  There is one thing that local communities can do, and that is to effectively "nullify" the 21 drinking age by refusing to enforce it.  A good way to do this would be the following:

  1. The local government should pass its own law declaring its own drinking age to be 18, state laws to the contrary notwithstanding.
  2. Repeal all local social host laws (if any) that pertain to 18-20 year olds.
  3. Declare the possession and consumption of alcohol by 18-20 year olds, and casual furnishing of alcohol to them, to be the lowest law-enforcement priority (LLEP), as long as no other laws are broken at the same time.
  4. Issue "protection passes" to anyone aged 18-20 who lives, works or attends school in that municipality, and make selling alcohol to such people the LLEP as well.  Such passes would effectively enable their holders (and only their holders) to buy alcohol and enter bars in the town.
The "protection pass" idea would help keep outsiders from driving into town to go to the bar, getting drunk, and driving home, since outsiders would lack such passes.  Temporary passes could be given for tourists staying in local hotels, that would last only for the duration of their stay.  Holders of such passes who get busted for DUI, drunk violence, drunk vandalism, or disorderly conduct would lose their passes immediately.

If enough local governments decide to do this, it would only be a matter of time before the drinking age is lowered.  Just look at Denver and Seattle, for example, who made cannabis possession the LLEP long before their respective states decided to fully legalize it.  And as they say, the rest is history.