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the drinking age and we see a number of States moving in that direction.

I would add one further point, and that is that it is not just States' rights that is the reason why we would favor allowing the States to move forward on their own. It has always been our experience that if the people of a State have a stake in doing something for themselves, coming up with a program themselves, getting local community strong support for doing something, a law, once enacted, is really going to be enforced and meet its objectives.

We are moving in that direction, and moving to encourage States to build self-financing into their anti-drunk driving programs. I know some of the opposition in some States to a 21 drinking age has been concern over losing revenue. We are beginning to see States set up impressive self-financing programs for the drunk driving problem. I think this will begin to eliminate some of the concern over lost tax revenue.

In other words, I think we are moving in the right direction. I do not see a need right now for a drastic Federal step.

Mr. RICHARDSON. I hope that we are moving in the right direction, and by the year 2000 all 50 States will have a drinking age of 21. Mothers Against Drunk Driving testified before this subcommittee and they feel this situation should be treated a lot more urgently than you have stated.

The $25 million allocated for this grant program that you mentioned. Is it realistic to assume that with $25 million we can have every State participate fully in a massive drunk driving education program? The $25 million is such a small drop in the bucket, and you have just said it is not even used for 21 in most cases.

I am concerned that while the administration is opposed to H.R. 3870, you seem to offer very little in the form of an alternative.

Ms. STEED. Well, let me put it this way. As I said, $125 million is available. It is not totally dedicated to 21, although that is one of the principal criteria that we are working hard to encourage the States to adopt. We are working very closely with a number of groups on the outside, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, such as individual State and local drunk driving task forces to advocate a minimum drinking age of 21.

But again, we believe in the long run that we will have a better product if we simply assist and encourage the States very strongly through the grant program, through the allocation of our regular State community grant program funds. We will have a better longrun solution in which they have a stake than we will if we simply mandate it from the Federal level.

Mr. RICHARDSON. Now, on page 3 you talk about the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving that is expected to conclude its work this fall. Are they going to support H.R. 3870? Is there any chance of that?

Ms. STEED. I think you are going to have the chairman of the Presidential Commission here today, and I would suggest that you ask him that question. I believe the Commission will strongly recommend the 21 drinking age, as we do.

Mr. RICHARDSON. But will the Commission recommend the Florio bill? That is really the issue. I am just concerned that we are going to have another Presidential Commission ratifying the administration's policy. I disagree with your commitment, and I regret your statement very much.

Mr. Florio. If I might just ask one last question. In the Federal Register notice of February 7, your administration noted that the Distilled Spirits Council says that the data do not demonstrate the effectiveness of setting the drinking age at 21. The response in that notice is it says: The agency strongly disagrees. There is statistically valid data to show that increasing the drinking age results in a decrease in alcohol-related crashes among young people.

Is that still your position?
Ms. STEED. Absolutely.
Mr. Florio. Thank you.

I have no further questions, and thank you very much for your participation this morning.

I see we have our colleague here, the Honorable John E. Porter. We are pleased to hear from him. He has taken a very important role in addressing this basic problem of drinking and driving. We are pleased to have you with us this morning.


CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS Mr. PORTER. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before your subcommittee and to testify on this very important matter.

I have a statement for the record that I would like to submit.

Mr. Florio. Without objection, it will be put in the record in its entirety.

Mr. PORTER. I would like to address the question orally.

Let me first tell you, Mr. Chairman, where I come from on this issue. My father was a judge from a time before I was born and was a national highway safety expert, particularly in the area of drunken driving. So this was a subject that was often in our home and discussed throughout my entire upbringing.

In addition, I represent a district that borders Illinois and Wisconsin, where in Wisconsin the drinking age is 18 and in Illinois it is higher. That border has become one which young people repeatedly cross for the opportunity to drink at a younger age, come back intoxicated and are injured and killed. It is now known by the local press as “blood border” and it is a very, very serious problem in my district.

I do not think that the incentive grants approach works, and so I come at this from the use of the stick rather than the carrot.

I also think, however, that there is a problem with H.R. 3870 because it really intrudes into an area that, while it may be constitutional, has traditionally been left to regulation by the States. I think that once you enter into that area and make this simply a matter of national law, you upset an entire balanced relationship between the Federal Government and the States in terms of who has jurisdiction over what and incur a great deal of cost in enforcing the law at the Federal level.

I think it can be achieved far more easily by using the same approach that we used with the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit. That has been adopted uniformly throughout the country. While there have been some problems with enforcement in some areas, nevertheless each State fell into line when it was suggested, because of the large number of highway fatalities and because of our energy problems, that the national speed limit of 55 would be a wise program to adopt.

I think that same approach can be used in reference to this serious national problem, simply by putting into the law a provision exactly the same as that relating to the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit, that highway funds will not be available to those States that do not adopt the drinking age of 21.

I would commend that approach to you. I introduced legislation to that effect last April, H.R. 2441. I think it addresses the same subject that you are concerned with and I think it does it in a far more enforceable manner, one that does not intrude or upset that balance between the Federal Government and States that is so important and traditional in our country.

[Mr. Porter's prepared statement follows:


OCTOBER 19, 1983

Subcommittee on Commerce, Transportation and Tourism

Mr. Chairman: Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you regarding a national drinking age.

We are all aware of the tragic number of highway deaths which result from alcohol-related accidents. There are 25,000 deaths annually on the nation's

ghways as a result of accidents caused by drunk drivers and teenagers represent 25% of that amount although the constitute less than 8% of the total number of licensed drivers.

Research has shown that by raising the legal drinking age a state can dramatically reduce its alcohol-related accident rate among teenage drivers. For example, my home state of Illinois raised its drinking age from 19 to 21 for the consumption of beer and wine in 1980 and, following that change, saw a 12% decrease in alcohol-related accidents for youth 19 and 20 years of age.

I am particularly sensitive to the need for states to raise legal drinking ages because I represent a Congressional district where the drinking age is 21, yet borders Wisconsin where the drinking age is only 18. In fact, the local press has nicknamed that part of my district "blood border" to signify the large number of accidents which occur there.

As you know, the House of Representatives has already shown support for programs which encourage states to raise their drinking age to 21. During the last session of Congress I was pleased to lend my support to the drunk driving legislation which included incentive grants for states to raise their drinking ages. In addition, I have co-sponsored a resolution in this session of Congress which expresses the sense of the Congress that states should raise their drinking ages.

Unfortunately, as these hearings today indicate, many states have been slow to implement a uniform drinking age at 21. In fact, only 16 states have established 21 as the minimum age for the consumption of alcohol.

I am aware of several options that the Congress could adopt to encourage states to raise their drinking age. These policy alternatives include: 1. incentive grants to the states, similar to those in last years' drunk driving legislation, 2. establishment of a federal drinking age as in H.R. 3780, Congressman Florio's bill and 3. restrictions linking the receipt of federal highway funds to a minimum drinking age of 21.

Today, testimony is being heard regarding the chairman's bill, H.R. 3780, to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages to those under 21.

While I approve of the intent of this legislation, I believe that my approach to this issue is a more effective way to encourage states to raise their drinking age and is less likely to face serious challenges in the court.

Last April I introduced H.R. 2441 which prohibits the use of federal highway funds in any state in which the minimum drinking age is less than 21 for the consumption of alcoholic beverages. This strategy is similar to that used in the past for adopting 55 miles per hour as the natiowide speed limit in order to encourage energy conservation and reduce highway fatalities.

I would like to share with the committee several reasons why I feel that H.R. 2441 is the best way to encourage states to raise their drinking age.

Establishing a federal drinking age raises several constitutional questions. For example, under the 10th amendment to the Constitution, states are reserved the right to regulate certain activities conducted exclusively within the states borders. The establishment of a minimum drinking age has traditionally been considered within the scope of the state's police powers and as a result the federal government has not intervened in this area.

My legislation conforms to this 200 year tradition by allowing the states to establish their own drinking age, yet providing a strong economic incentive for states to adhere to a minimum drinking age of 21.

My proposal will be relatively simple to implement. As with the 55 miles per hour speed limit, governors of each of the states could be required to pledge that his or her state will enforce a minimum drinking age of 21 as a prerequisite to receiving their federal highway funds.

Unlike H.R. 3780, my bill does not require the federal government to enforce the drinking age, rather it allows the states to continue in their role of enforcement.

In conclusion, I urge you to consider H.R. 2441 as a viable alternative to several of the problems posed by H.R. 3780, especially in light of the serious constitutional questions raised. I thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

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