cheersAt NYRA, we get emails. Many write to thank us for our work. Some write to share new ideas or to provide thoughtful feedback. And some write to scathe us for supporting the rights of youth.

I thought I’d share one we got recently. Bear in mind, none of the “facts” in this email have been verified. Under the subject heading “Is this a joke?” “Paul” writes as follows:

Why would we want to lower the drinking age? I’m 16 and this outright is asinine.My friend was killed in a car crash by a 17 year old drunk driver. Why would we lower the age just to have a bunch of immature drunks in our cities. If anything, they need to raise the drinking age. We can go to war at 18 so we can fight for our country. We don’t have an 18 year old drinking age so we can fill our cities with teen-drunks. This is ludicrous I thought our youth rights would fight for something a  little bit more reasonable.

This provokes several questions beyond just, “Does anyone really believe ‘Paul’ is 16?” The biggest question that comes to my mind is this: did this alleged death occur in a place where the drinking age is 17 or lower and where drunk driving is legal? Or is this just another example of the failure of our current laws?

Our ageist policies create a culture that encourages youth to engage in binge drinking and then leaves them few safe ways to get home. We’ve all heard the stories of taxi companies that offer free rides home on New Years Eve but refuse to offer such rides to those younger than 21 for fear of “sending the wrong message.” We all know of parents who cave in to peer pressure and forbid their children to drink, leading those youth to drink elsewhere and then fear calling their parents for a safe ride home.

Studies have shown that the drinking age causes more drunk driving deaths than it prevents. So “Paul,” if you really did lose a friend to a 17-year-old drunk driver, understand that both your friend and the drunk driver were victims of the policies NYRA works to change.