In 1984, Congress passed the National Minimum Purchase Age Act, to encourage each state to enact a minimum legal purchase age (MLPA) of 21 by 1986. The result was impressive: an estimated 1,071 lives were saved in 1987 alone. From 1975 - 1996, the estimated number of lives saved reached nearly 17,000.(2) In addition to a 63% decline in alcohol-related crash fatalities among young drivers since 1982, findings show that the MLPA has decreased the number of DWI arrests, youth suicides, marijuana use, crime, and alcohol consumption by youth.(3,4)
·High school seniors who could not legally drink until age 21 drank less before age 21 and between ages 21 - 25 than did seniors in states with lower drinking ages.(5,6) Similarly, a national survey of 16 - 21 year-olds found that teens from states with a higher MLPA drank less frequently.(7)
·The 1978 National Study of Adolescent Drinking Behavior found that 10th - 12th graders in states with lower drinking ages drank significantly more, were less likely to abstain from alcohol, and were drunk more often than students in states with a drinking age of 21.(8)
·A study of New York college students documented that students who began drinking at younger ages were more likely to drink heavily in college. They were also more likely to report alcohol-related problems such as trouble at work, with friends, family, and police.(9)
·The behavior of 18 year-olds is particularly influential on youth ages 15 - 17, as young people typically imitate the practices of those who are slightly older, rather than the practices of those who are significantly older.(10) Therefore, if 18 year-olds can legally drink, their immediate, younger peers will drink too.
Fatalities, Crashes, and DWI Arrests
·State motor vehicle fatality data from the 48 continental states found that lowering the...