Napolitano skeptical about lower drinking age - East Valley Tribune: News

Napolitano skeptical about lower drinking age

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Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2008 7:31 pm | Updated: 11:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Gov. Janet Napolitano is giving a chilly reception to a proposal to let those younger than 21 drink - no matter what her personal experience.

Napolitano said Wednesday she has not studied the proposal by several dozen college presidents to scrap state laws that raised the drinking age more than two decades ago to 21.

Their argument, dubbed the Amethyst Initiative, is that students are less likely to engage in binge drinking and risky behavior if they are in public places like bars rather than in dorm rooms or off campus.

Napolitano said that doesn't make a lot of sense to her.

"We have a real problem with young drivers drinking and driving and making a real push in our state about that," she said.

The governor credited a crackdown on drinking anddriving for at least part of the reduction in fatal crashes in Arizona.

"If they want to send me some information, I'll review it," she said. "But my initial reaction is one of deep skepticism."

Napolitano also said that waiting until 21 is not a hardship. She pointed out she went to college at Santa Clara University in California, a state that has set the drinking age at 21 since the end of Prohibition.

"I didn't drink before the legal age," she said.


"You know what? I'm sure I did," the governor responded.

"But that's a lot different than changing the legal standard for everyone," Napolitano said.

And she said lowering the legal drinking age "probably then pushes down the age to 16 or15 when kids start drinking. There is an effect there that happens."

Arizona's drinking age had been 21 until lawmakers approved lowering it in 1972 to 19. It remained there until 1984 when then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt signed a new law restoring the previous standard.

Much of that impetus for that change came amid threats by the federal government to cut off aid to any state which allowed drinking younger than 21.

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