It's time to stop treating underage drinking like a joke—5,000 deaths and 100,000 sexual assaults a year should make that clear—and give states the freedom to get creative with their laws, writes John McCardell in the Atlantic. The federal age-21 restriction only pushes the drinking underground and makes it more dangerous, he contends, so why not try allowing states to opt out without penalty? Some alternatives:
- Allow 18-year-olds to drink if they've finished high school, attended a meaningful alcohol-education course, and kept their record clean.
- Mandate alcohol education at an early age.
- Adopt zero-tolerance laws for drivers of all ages.
- Require ignition interlocks on car—a high blood-alcohol level and it won't start.