Minimum Legal Drinking Age Studies Leave Some Questions Unanswered

The minimum legal drinking age is currently 21 years in every U.S. state. However, the minimum age has changed over the years. In the early 1970s, the age was lowered in several states to 18, 19, or 20. Although the minimum legal drinking age is the single best-studied alcohol control policy in the U.S., according to, questions still remain as to whether or not it decreases the risks of drunk driving and other alcohol-related criminal charges.

A review of studies of minimum legal drinking age laws conducted between 1960 and 2000 found that about one-third of the studies determined that a higher drinking age led to less alcohol consumption. Slightly more than half (58 percent) of the studies reviewed stated that a higher minimum legal drinking age lowered the rate of traffic accidents related to driving under the influence (DUI). While these numbers suggest that a higher minimum legal drinking age may reduce the risk of criminal charges for alcohol-related misbehavior, they are not conclusive.

Studies on college campuses revealed even more mixed results. Of the 64 studies reviewed, not one found any significant relationship between a change in the minimum legal drinking age and the reduction of minors in possession of alcohol or underage DUI related charges on college campuses. Meanwhile, some college administrators say that they have more problems with students being charged because the minimum legal drinking age is higher, and that these problems could be reduced if the drinking age were lowered.

If you’ve been charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol, a DUI, or other alcohol- or drug-related crime in Colorado, the experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. can help. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (719) 475-2555.

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