Friday, July 01, 2005

The Laws Have Changed

Remember how hard it was to be an underage drinker, hanging out in the U-Tote-M parking lot on a balmy Friday night, trying to convince a sympathetic adult to buy you a six-pack? Well, it's about to get a whole lot harder in Texas. Under a new law that goes into effect September 1, any adult convicted of knowingly purchasing or furnishing alcohol to someone under 21 faces an automatic six-month driver's license suspension.

Although providing booze to minors is already a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail, that law is primarily used to go after errant retailers and clubs. The automatic license supsension takes aim at the cool uncle types who are just trying to help a (younger) brother out. Parents and guardians can still furnish alcohol to their own kids, but who wants to get drunk with their parents?

When I was a teen, I remember thinking how good the teens of the late Seventies had it. The drinking age was 18, Vietnam was over and penicillin took care of what ailed you down there. Now it seems like I'm the one who had it easy with regard to the consequences of vice.

For most of the time I was in high school, the drinking age was 19. While that effectively removed legal drinkers from high school, obtaining alcohol was still relatively easy. Most retailers and clubs carded, but not with the same tenacity as today. If a 17-year-old guy couldn't pass for 19, there was usually a 15-year-old girl nearby that could. Getting booze was more of a fun challenge than an ordeal.

I can't say I'm entirely opposed to making it more difficult for teens to drink anymore, although it still doesn't seem right to let 18-year-olds join the military if they can't even get a beer. I'm surprised no one has proposed letting underage soldiers drink as an incentive to prop up sagging military recruitment levels. If Bush was able to partake of "youthful indiscretions" while ducking Vietnam, it only seems fair to let the kids who have to fight and die in his war to booze it up.

1 comment:

BB said...

Getting beer/booze was absolutely no problem for me from about the age of 12 on. Parents, older friends, convenience store clerks who didn't care...

I have no problem with attempts to make it harder to procure for underage folks, but there's really no stopping someone who's determined anyway.

And heck, there's always some sort of intoxicant available for the determined sort, from paint to grass to... whatever. Australian prison inmates breed and raise spiders because a diluted dose of the venom produces a high.

So legislation can only go so far. Hell, Prohibition failed miserably. As with lots of society's woes, the best route to improvement is through education.

Jeez, this wasn't supposed to become an after-school special...

Have a good weekend, Mr. B.