Lawmaker proposes lower military drinking ageBy Melita Kiely
A Maryland senator has proposed a new bill to allow 18-year-old members of the US military to drink alcohol, despite the legal drinking age in the country being 21.
Senator Ron Young, D-Frederick proposed a reduction in the legal drinking age for military members to the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Friday.
The bill would permit service members under the age of 21 to drink beer and wine at a bar or restaurant by showing valid military identification, however spirits and off-premise purchases would still be prohibited.
“Is someone can risk their life, why shouldn’t they be able to have a glass of beer or wine with dinner?” Young asked the committee.
His proposal has received support from Hugh Warner, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3285 in Frederick, who told the Frederick News Post: “If the young man’s able to dodge bullets, he ought be able to vote and take a beer now and then.”
However, a state transportation official estimated Maryland would lose approximately US$32 million in highway funds every year as a result of not complying with the federal uniform drinking age law.
An anti-drink driving organisation called Washington Regional Alcohol Programme has opposed the bill, claiming minimum drinking age laws have saved almost 30,000 people since 1975.
Kurt Gregory Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Programme, said younger military members who have served in combat are at greater risk of binge drinking.
“Supporting our troops and supporting the minimum drinking age are not mutually exclusive,” he added.
No other state in the US has passed a law to lower the drinking age for military troops.