Boulder PD chief: Drinking age at 21 a bad idea |

Boulder PD chief: Drinking age at 21 a bad idea

BOULDER, Colorado ” The police chief of the college town where a 19-year-old died of alcohol poisoning said raising the legal drinking age limit to 21 was not a wise decision.

Police Chief Mark Beckner sent a letter this week to the City Council detailing an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes,” where he was questioned about the 2004 alcohol poisoning death of Lynn “Gordie” Bailey Jr., whose body was found after a fraternity initiation.

Beckner said he believes the level of drinking between the ages of 18 and 21 has actually increased since the 1980s, after President Reagan signed the National Minimum Age Drinking Act in 1984. That law withheld federal highway funds from states that failed to set the legal limit to 21 years old, prompting all 50 states to raise the limit.

“All of the efforts we have tried to implement over the years, including education, awareness programs, heavy enforcement, etc., have had little effect on preventing 18- to 20-year-old adults from drinking,” he wrote. “What we’ve done is helped create an underground culture that encourages binge drinking without any oversight or supervision.”

Police spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said Wednesday the segment is scheduled to air this spring and that Becker had informed City Manager Frank Bruno of the interview and was in the process of notifying the mayor and City Council.

Bill Marine, a physician and retired professor of Preventive Medicine at the CU Health Sciences Center, said lowering the drinking age would be a mistake.

He cited the example of New Zealand, where a decision to lower the age to 18 resulted in increased traffic fatalities.

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