Youth research

Minority leader SC House explains why he wants to lower the age for drinking

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Soon, Southern Carolinians may not have to turn 21 to enjoy an adult drink, thanks to a new bill that aims to raise the age of alcohol consumption in South Carolina between the ages of 21 and 18.

The bill’s sponsor, Minority House Leader Todd Rutherford, said he hoped the bill would allow young people to start adopting healthy drinking habits earlier. He cited the low rates of DUIs and alcoholism in countries where the age of drinking is younger as evidence that it could lead to a better relationship with alcohol.

“We have to start looking at the things we’ve done just because it’s always been the way it’s been done,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford said he chose to introduce the bill this year because it could jeopardize about $ 38 million in federal highway funding.

“South Carolina, according to the BEA estimate yesterday, will have around $ 2 billion to spend on one-time funds and $ 1 billion on recurring funds,” Rutherford said. “We have more money than we have ever had.”

He said apps like Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever to avoid drunk driving and he wants young people to get used to using them for their night out.

“We have the science, we have the technology,” Rutherford said. “Let’s use it and stop infringing on people’s personal freedoms.”

Mason Knight, a freshman at Francis Marion University, is just 18, but said current laws haven’t stopped people his age from drinking.

“I mean, you can always get your hands on it if you want it enough,” Knight said.

He said young people who want to drink should just be sneaky instead.

“You have to bypass the authorities and try to be safe until you are this legal age,” Knight said.

“We have turned college-aged kids into criminals,” Rutherford said. “Can they join the military and go to war, can they sign up for crippling student loan debt, but not be able to have a beer?” I think it’s ridiculous. “

The drinking age in South Carolina was reduced from 18 to 21 in 1984. The bill will be debated when the legislature resumes in January.

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