Kentucky: Bill would let GIs under 21 get alcohol
Her proposal aims to curb drunken driving
Source: State Journal - By Vince Tweddell
January 4, 2008
A state representative has pre-filed a bill that would allow enlisted military personnel 18 years to drink alcoholic beverages in Kentucky.
David Floyd (R-Bardstown) says he believes military personnel who volunteer to fight for their nation should also have the right to drink alcohol.
A 20-year veteran of the Air Force, Floyd said Thursday he finds the paradox disconcerting " that an 18-year-old can serve and die for the nation, yet isn't regarded as a responsible enough to be served alcohol.
"I would have a whole lot of trouble to tell someone they're old enough to serve the country, but not old enough to have a beer in a bar," Floyd said.
However, Kentucky Mothers Against Drunk Driving executive director Angela Criswell said letting 18-year-old military personnel drink is not the best way to pay tribute to them.
"There has to be a better way to honor our underage men and women in uniform," Criswell said.
MADD believes drinking age laws should remain "clear, consistent and uniform" across the state for all people, Criswell said.
Pre-filed Dec. 13, the bill would allow those 18 and older enlisted in the armed forces, state National Guard, or the Reserves to purchase and drink alcoholic beverages.
If the bill makes it out of committee and is allowed by House leadership for a vote, Floyd said he believes it would pass.
However, one issue that would have to be addressed is federal highway funding for states that have a minimum 21-year-old drinking age. Floyd said it is unclear if that funding would be cut if the law changes. But if it did, he said he would look to seek other means to get it passed.
Criswell said it's not really a "rights and responsibility issue" " as Floyd argues " but instead a public safety issue.
Criswell said alcohol affects the brain of a person in the late teens and early 20s differently than someone older.
"There is a very real neurological difference," she said.
Floyd said terming this law change as allowing underage drinking " as he foresees some will " is misguided because no one serving in the military is underage.
"Children do not serve in the military," Floyd said. "These are adults."