Stateline Lawmaker Proposes Lowering Illinois Drinking Age To 18
A quick question for you to get things started: do you know what MLDA stands for? It's totally okay if you don't, because until I started doing some research today, I didn't either.
MLDA is "Minimum Legal Drinking Age," and Illinois', like every other state, is 21 years of age. Back in 1984, Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, making age 21 the standard across the country. It took a few years to take effect everywhere, but now it's the law of the land in the United States.
What's interesting to note is that if you look at the Constitution's 21st amendment, it's very clearly spelled out that the states can actually decide for themselves what the MLDA is for their residents. The reason everyone went with the federal government's MLDA is that if they don't, they risk losing federal funds, mostly for highway and road projects.
90th District State Representative John Cabello Has Introduced House Bill 4021 (HB4021) In The State Legislature, Which Lower Illinois' Drinking Age To 18
HB4021 would lower Illinois' MLDA to 18 from 21 by amending the Liquor Control Act of 1934, which set the drinking age at 21 following the end of Prohibition. Cabello's bill would also amend other bills that list Illinois' legal drinking age at 21.
There have been, and still are, arguments about the MLDA, with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) taking the position that "having the minimum drinking age set at 21 has led to fewer vehicle crashes, has reduced underage drinking and has helped young Americans to avoid adverse outcomes, such as drug dependence, adverse health outcomes and suicide."
Advocates for lowering our MLDA to age 18 point to a study at Indiana University that argues dropping the drinking age would "allow (young adults) to drink in controlled environments, and could reduce irresponsible behaviors caused by illegal and secretive drinking."
I Gave Representative Cabello A Call And Asked Him Why He's In Favor Of Lowering Illinois Drinking Age
John Cabello represents a big chunk of our area here in Northern Illinois, and he was quick to respond to my questions.
Q: What's your reasoning behind introducing HB4021 to lower Illinois' drinking age?
Rep. John Cabello: There are several reasons. Why is it that we can and do send 18-year olds off to war, but we won't let them buy a beer? 18-year olds can vote, but can't buy an alcoholic beverage. That doesn't make much sense.
Q: Is that the primary reason, or is there more to it?
Rep. John Cabello: 45 of the 50 states have some form of exemption to the 21 and older law, and I'd like to negotiate some changes to Illinois' exemption to make our state's laws more like what they have in Wisconsin (underage teens can presently drink in a bar or restaurant with a parent present in Wisconsin. Under Wisconsin law, those 18-20 can legally drink with a parent, guardian, or spouse 21 or older.).
Q: What are the chances of HB4021 being signed into law?
Rep. John Cabello: We'll have to see, but I think we'll have a very good conversation that really needs to be had.