Fools and roads: what can the United States raised the age of sale of alcohol to 21 years

Surprisingly, all the fault of the road. With all of them started, and they’re all over, writes Tikhon Smirnov in his blog on

Дураки и дороги: из-за чего США подняли возраст продажи алкоголя до 21 года

Photo: Depositphotos

In Russia the age limits picture is quite clear. 18 years old to marry, to watch movies, drive a car, open a company, get a loan, serve in the military, buy cigarettes and alcohol.

Or, for example, the age of consent we also have one for the whole country is 16. In America, the scheme is slightly more complicated. He, depending on the state, varies from 16 to 18 years. So, before the alcohol they had the same story.

In 1975 in the United States were States where you can drink from 18 years, were States where it was authorised to do with 19, somewhere alcohol is sold generally only 20 or 21 years.

But there was a series of events, which in the ‘ 80s across the country, alcohol was sold exclusively 21 years old.

The war and the right to vote

When the U.S. abolished prohibition (1933), most States set the age of sale of alcohol in 21 years. It lasted almost forty years until 1971.

In those years, America was actively involved in military action in Vietnam and the government faced an outcry of citizens. The fact is that while the right to vote was given to people of 21 years and conscription occurred earlier (18).

Had to amend, and to reduce the age of voting from 21 to 18 years. So one signature in the document have added 11 million new voters.

After these changes, many (but not all) States have decided that if people can fight and vote, and drink alcohol, it is also necessary to allow 18. Did so. In the 70s most of America began to drink with this age.

Fools and roads

Unfortunately, after a few years this led to a very serious problem. Stood that only in 1982 on U.S. roads in a traffic accident killed more than 50,000 people and half of these cases happened because of drunk drivers.

They began to understand and found that a large number of teenagers specially going by car to the neighboring state where they can legally purchase alcohol.

Often use they started right on the way back.

“Bloody border”

To combat the problem, launched a large-scale social advertising (in which even took part Michael Jackson), but it worked not. All these current pictures on cigarette packs.

The paradox was that when in some state raised the age of sale of alcohol, it only worsened the situation. Young drivers were forced to go by car to the neighbors, to buy booze there.

However, many States were reluctant to raise the age. Imagine that all the shops in the area sell alcohol from 21, and you 18 years of age. It’s incredibly profitable.


Reagan had to intervene in the story and to put pressure on the regions that refused to obey. He promised to withhold 5% of the road budget in States where alcohol will be sold to persons under the age of 21.

Through the economy the government succeeded. So here’s a strange way the road was the source and at the same time addressing alcohol consumption driving and the introduction of a single age sale of alcohol across the country.



Educational program