The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Police Logs

December 18, 2012

Ask a Trooper: Youth and Alcohol – Minimum drinking age of 21 is in place for good reason.


Many European countries have made changes during the last decade and for good reason. 

France saw a 50 percent increase in the number of 15-24 year olds hospitalized for excessive alcohol use between 2004 and 2007.  During this time, alcohol was the leading cause of death among the French.  In 2009, France raised the MLDA from 16 to 18 and banned open bars (for a single fee drink as much as wanted).  It is not a reach to expect these countries to make even more changes in the next decade showing a firmer grip on their youth’s consumption.



  • The behavior of 18 year olds directly affects the behavior of 15-17 year olds, reducing drinking behavior for the prior also reduces it for the latter. 
  • A drinking age of 18 is associated with adverse outcomes among births to young mothers.
  • There is potential harm alcohol may have on the developing brain, which is maturing well into the 20s.
  • When teens drink they tend to drink heavily
  • The later a youth is introduced to alcohol the less likely they are to have problems surrounding drinking;  DWIs, school dropout rates, dependency, traffic crashes and violent crimes.  Waiting until 21 to consume alcohol gives them the best odds.  
  • Arguing that an 18 year old can join the service and fight for our nation so they should be able to drink legally means permitting doing something harmful to their emotional and physical wellbeing. Drinking should never be considered a reward or right of passage.


*Facts are from U.S. Department of Transportation, National High Traffic Administration-Underage Drinking Prevention Project; MN Department of Health and Education; MN Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety.


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