Minimum Age of 21 Saves Lives -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

Minimum Age of 21 Saves Lives

Specifically, the study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that laws making it illegal to possess or purchase alcohol by anyone under the age of 21 had led to an eleven percent drop in alcohol-related traffic deaths among youth; secondly, they found that states with strong laws against fake IDs reported seven percent fewer alcohol-related fatalities among drivers under the age of 21.

The study accounted for several factors, such as improved safety features in cars, better roadways and tougher adult drunk driving laws that are supposed to have contributed to a reduction in fatalities involving underage drivers who have consumed alcohol. Also, regional and economic differences and changes that lowered the illegal blood alcohol content for driving to .08 were considered.

The researchers looked at data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting system (FARS) (a database of all police- reported motor vehicle crashes resulting in at least one fatality) between 1982 and 1990 and then assessed the strength of each state's legislation (using a scoring system) aimed at preventing underage drinking. Based on the FARS data for each state, the authors were able to determine the impact of the state's individual laws on underage drinking and driving fatalities.

Minimum legal drinking age of 21 (MLDA 21) laws have many components, which target outlets that sell alcohol to minors; adults who provide alcoholic beverages to minors; and minors who purchase or attempt to purchase, possess, or consume alcohol.

In addition, there are companion laws such as laws that require registration of beer keg purchases and make hosts liable for the actions of underage drinking guests. The authors report great variability in how states use, adopt and implement legislation to reduce underage drinking.; Source: Substance Abuse Policy Research Program