You’ve heard it before, “Why can you join the military at 18 but not drink?”
Well, one proposed California ballot initiative is looking to change the drinking age. According to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the initiative has been cleared to begin collecting signatures.
If it gets enough signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether 18-year-olds will be able to legally purchase and drink alcohol in the state. The legal drinking age is 21, which was established by the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984.
The proponent of the measure is business owner Terrance Lynn, who must collect the signatures of 365,880 registered voters to qualify, Padilla’s office said in a statement.
“The proponent has 180 days to circulate petitions for the measure, meaning the signatures must be submitted to county elections officials by April 26, 2016,” the statement reads.
The Secretary of State’s office said if the ballot passed, California would lose $200 million in federal highway funds. But it would also lead to an increase in state and local tax revenues from the sales of alcohol beverages, the office said.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving opposes lowering the drinking age below 21. The organization says that more than 25,000 lives have been saved across the United States since the minimum drinking age was raised to 21.
“When states had lower legal drinking ages in the U.S., the underage drinking problem was worse. For example, before the 21 minimum legal drinking age was implemented by all states, underage drunk drivers were involved in over twice as many fatal traffic crashes as today,” MADD’s website says.
It said the law continues to decrease the number of crashes by an estimated 16 percent each year.
“I think it’s fine at 21. I think if it was younger, maybe young adults may not make the best choices,” 20-year-old Michael Villagomez told KABC in Los Angeles.
“I think if we’re able to send people to war at 18, they should be able to determine if they can handle alcohol,” Burbank resident Lisa Neglia added.
“I think 21 is a great age for drinking because I feel like nowadays people think that just because they’re older as in 16, 17 that they feel free to do whatever they want,” 17-year-old Rakkell Villagomez also told the station.