Surprising support for lower drinking age

College presidents from about 100 of the nation’s best known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began discreetly recruiting college presidents over a year ago with the goal of provoking a national debate about the drinking age and the federal highway law that made 21 the national drinking age by denying money to any state that bucked the trend. Although the presidents have not explicitly called for a younger drinking age, they have made clear their mutual agreement that the current law is not working, and cite the culture of underground binge-drinking that exists on many college campuses.

The movement has already received harsh criticism from groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) that argue that lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal crashes.

Every year, more than 5,000 deaths of people under age 21 are linked to underage drinking. Alcohol is also a leading factor in automobile crashes, homicides, and suicides – the three leading causes of death for people aged 15 to 24.

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