In a surprising move, Mothers Against Drunk Driving formed a new coalition to support the existing 21-year-old drinking age. The new coalition held a press conference on October 9 seeking to go on the offensive against advocates for lowering the drinking age to 18 (i.e. NYRA and Choose Responsibility). The press conference earned NYRA additional media opportunities to make the case for 18.
On October 9th, our own Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz was featured on CNN’s Situation Room. MADD President Glynn Birch claimed MLDA 21 “saves lives and protects young minds.” Another MADD representative appealed to emotion, saying that she “knows personally the effects of underage drinking.” Alex pointed out that “18-year-olds are mature and responsible enough to handle every aspect of adulthood … It’s absurd to have that double-standard,” and advocated a change in the way America views and handles alcohol.
Statistics quoted by the National Traffic Safety Board indicate that only 28% of young drivers killed in automobile accidents had been drinking and that of those 28%, only 23% – just a little over 6% – were actually over the .08 legal limit. As John McCardell of Choose Responsibility said, “If science is allowed to speak for itself, we must not listen selectively.” Also speaking out on the issue of the drinking age was NYRA member and American soldier Robert Bertoniere Jr., who at age 20 was charged with being a “minor in possession” of alcohol after returning from a 10 month tour of duty in Afghanistan. He said in an interview with Northwestern University that “you can go overseas, you can die overseas, but you can’t drink a beer – it’s just backwards.”