[CR] Week in Review

Social host laws are becoming more popular as legislators search for ways to cut down on underage drinking, and this week, California took a step toward instituting a statewide social host law of its own. On Monday, the California Assembly voted 67-1 to send bill AB 2486, which imposes liability on adults who knowingly serve alcohol to underage drinkers, to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Leave your feedback on social host laws in the comments, and then check out the rest of these recent headlines.

Stories this week:

In case you missed it: Tom Keane made the provocative case for changing alcohol regulations, including the drinking age, in his Sunday essay for the Boston Globe magazine.

Charles Couger’s op-ed in the Lansing State Journal explores the unintended consequences of alcohol prohibition aimed at 18-20 year-olds, which he says lead to dangerous situations for underage drinkers who attempt to evade law enforcement.

Eric Hafner of Red Bank, NJ believes that New Jersey should extend alcohol purchase and consumption privileges to 18-20 year-olds who are non-drivers. What do you think?

In other news…

Rheyanne Weaver, an EmpowHER contributor, compiled a guide for female college students and their parents called “Alcohol Safety for Women in College.” Check it out for up-to-date statistics on binge drinking by female college students and descriptions of some collegiate alcohol education programs.

In Ontario Canada, where the drinking age is 19, local officials have instituted a new policy that intends to cut down on drunk driving by younger drivers. From now on, drivers under the age of 22 with “any measurable blood alcohol concentration above zero will be breaking the law and will have their licenses immediately suspended at the roadside for 24 hours. A $110 fine also will be imposed, under the new provisions, and drivers will be subject to a further license suspension of 30 days, if convicted in court.”

Send us a tip in the comments if we missed something with this week’s news round-up.

4 Responses to “[CR] Week in Review”

  1. Edwin Says:

    The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with its important components. The California Assembly has advanced oppression against those aged 18-20 by passing a bill which would punish people who host parties who give alcohol to partiers 20 and under to decrease “underage” drinking. The 67-1 vote shows the ageism of the California Assembly. Eric Hafner’s solution is progress but not complete. Everyone convicted of drunk driving should be punished with their driving record and character coming first with age coming after.

  2. Eric Hafner Says:

    Hi Edwin,
    I agree with you.

    See below for a full copy of my letter (unedited):

    Dear Editor,

    In the late 1980s, Mothers Against Drunk Driving successfully lobbied members of Congress into passing legislation to require that in order for a state to continue receiving federal highway funding, they would need to raise their legal drinking age to at least 21. Needless to say, all 50 states ended up complying.

    Under New Jersey law, at 18 years of age an individual is considered to have reached the age of majority with all the rights, responsibilities and liabilities that come with adulthood.

    If someone 18-20 years old is charged with being a “Minor in Possession of Alcohol”, they are processed through the adult criminal justice system as opposed to the juvenile system because they are legally considered to be a fully competent adult.

    The Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment requires that everyone be treated equally under state law, unless a rational basis can be established for doing otherwise.

    In a 1996 case (Manuel vs. State of Louisiana), the Louisiana State Supreme court ruled that, “statutes establishing the minimum drinking age at a level higher than the age of majority are not arbitrary because they substantially further the appropriate governmental purpose of improving highway safety, and thus are constitutional”.

    Given this ruling, there does not seem to be any rational basis that would constitutionally allow states to prevent non-drivers over the age of majority from legally drinking.

    Since one cannot possess both a driver’s license and non-driver ID card at the same time, it is quite easy for both alcohol vendors and law enforcement officers to differentiate between drivers and non-drivers.

    Therefore in my opinion, New Jersey’s 21 drinking age is completely unenforceable against 18-20 year olds who do not drive.

    I call upon NJ Attorney General Paula Dow to immediately issue a memo to all law enforcement agencies and prosecutors statewide making them aware of these facts, so that 18-20 year old non- drivers will no longer have to worry about their constitutional right to equal protection being violated.

  3. Edwin Says:

    Good letter, Eric Hafner.

  4. Ajax the Great Says:

    All the social host law will do is enrich greedy trial lawyers without actually saving lives. Just look at the experience of other states, especially Massachusetts.