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Drinking Age and the AA Position - UCSA

Drinking Age and the Automobile Association Position

“The Automobile Association position on the drinking age is a simplification of the evidence,” said Darel Hall, President University of Canterbury Students’ Association.

The Automobile Association’s position on the public age of drinking is built on the American experience where road deaths increased when the drinking age was lowered, and decreased when it was raised.

“The situation in New Zealand is quite different. Firstly, the drink drive message has been adopted with great success with young people. This is something the AA can take great credit for in their support of Students Against Driving Drunk. While there will never be perfect compliance with the new social norm of sober driving, the new norm is a factor that did not exist in the American examples.

“Secondly, the Police and other authorities, are adamant that the age will be enforced. Currently the public drinking age is only enforced with vigour if there are immediate behavioural problems such as violence. The key reason 18 would be enforced is that it would have very wide societal acceptance, no ifs or buts. The second reason it would be enforced are the simplification of the rules of evidence. It is clear that the current legislation does not allow simple enforcement. The third reason is that a blanket age of 18 would give publicans no ability to seek ways to circumvent the law. Circumvention is possible and is currently a nice wee cottage industry for some lawyers.

Thirdly, the New Zealand is tightening up on driver licences, including adding photographic identification. So from next year licensees that wish to show good faith with a blanket age of 18 will be able to demand photographic identification.

Commentators often talk about the lack of ability of 18 and 19 year old bodies to handle alcohol, and the lack of maturity to make good healthy decisions. Well, how about the mental well-being and maturity of 18 and 19 year olds who are accumulating thousands of dollars of student loan debt? There is surely a double standard being applied here.

The UCSA supports the clarification of the public drinking age as a blanket 18 years of age, with photographic identification a requirement, and the strict enforcement of that law.”

ENDS

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