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Veteran Minnesota legislator fights binge drinking in unique way

Posted by attorney Max Keller

No one can deny that underage binge drinking is a serious problem in the U.S. The Midwest is especially known for underage drinking on college campuses and among high school students.

Minnesota state Representative Phyllis Kahn, D-Minneapolis, is proposing a bill that she thinks may help with this problem. Under the law, those 18 and older could drink alcohol at bars and restaurants, and those 16 and 17 could do so if their parents were there with them to purchase it.

A valid concern being raised is how such a change in the social drinking norm would affect the rate of drunk driving for those new young drinkers.

In neighboring Wisconsin, parents can buy liquor for their minor kids when they are together in bars. This is reportedly one inspiration for the idea behind Rep. Kahn's proposal. She thinks that if teens learned to drink alcohol responsibly around adults in a controlled environment, it might lessen the likelihood of binge drinking.

The bill would still not allow anyone under 21 to purchase alcohol at a liquor store, however. The emphasis would be on allowing social drinking in public only.

Similar sentiment is expressed in the theory that Europeans have less binge drinking. They learn to drink responsibly with their families from a young age, so to young adults there, alcohol is not a mysterious, unattainable substance to be guzzled whenever possible.

Additional resources provided by the author

Source: KAAL-TV, "Lawmaker Proposes New MN Drinking Law, 16-year-olds Allowed," Ellery McCardle, Feb. 2, 2012

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