Law enforcement and local courts spend time and resources trying to enforce the current law with limited success, where if the law was changed, their focus could be on the real problem of excessive and binge drinking and the many other costs associated with it—including big problems like drinking and driving, domestic violence, and sexual assault. If more of the drinking is brought back into public view, consumption might even go down. In 1986, as Governor of Kansas, I also pushed the state to modernize our liquor laws and change the Constitution to allow liquor to be sold by the drink. It was passed on a 2 to 1 margin over the threat that consumption would soar and driving fatalities would dramatically increase. Neither took place, and in fact, consumption went down in the immediate years that followed.
I suggest this with absolutely no disrespect to MADD. I simply believe we have given it enough time and, with the results, we have the justification to change back. I’m motivated and informed by my ten years on a college campus and going on three years as a faculty advisor to a fraternity. Young people drinking is not the problem. It is the irresponsible use of alcohol and binge drinking that makes no sense and causes real harm. If we put the energy and money wasted on enforcing a law that can’t be enforced into the real problems, we’d be much better off. So let’s do it. Make it 18, and add more common sense back into our alcohol laws.