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oli mny 19 years as a college teacher and administrator, I have never before
olt compelled to write a letter to the House of Representatives; however, when it comes to the proposed 21 year old drinking age, my feelings and Experiences are too strong to deny. As you may know, Illinois has a 21 year
c drinking law; however, our friends across the river in Iowa permit drinking at 19 and, since many of our students find the trip across the Mississippi site convenient, I have been able to watch the effect of that law on our * dents. Although no age is a perfect predictor of maturity, it is clear on
ir campus that the younger the student, the lower the quality of decisions
I applaud you and your colleagues for sponsoring this bill and wish you success.
It is our understanding that October 19 18 the date set for the second day of hearIngon HR 3870, the bill which would make it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages in interstate commerce to any person under 21. Our group felt that your Subcommittee would be quite interested in why we so emphatically support HR 3870.
Citizens Against Alcohol-Related Traffic Accidents (CARTA), 18 a broad-based citizens group which has gained the support of the Spokane community (evidenced by over 3,000 signatures collected in one week) for our efforts to end the needless tragedies caused too often by drivers who have been drinking.
Our situation is directly affected by HR 3870. The legal drinking age in Idaho is 19; in Washington 1t 18 21. The city of Spokane, Washington, is located just 20 miles from the Idaho border, allowing young people to have access to alcoholic beverages within a half-hour's drive. Just across the state line in Idaho are row after row of night clubs and dance halls attracting not only 19 to 21 year olds, but also young people under 19 and over 21. Spokane County has five colleges with a total enrollment of nearly 22,000 students, and a total population of approximately 14,000 19 and 20 year olds who are permanent residents. As you might Inagine, the drive to Stateline, Idaho, 1. a very popular one among students and young people.
But it is also a deadly drive. Over the three years, 1979 to 1981, 23 people have been killed in drinking driver accidents on Idaho to Spokane connecting routes. An astounding 83% of the drinking drivers were under 25 years of age; and fully half of the drinking drivers who caused fatal accidents were under 20 years old. Not only have drinking youth caused fatalities, they have contributed significantly to the number of injuries and property damage happening within in our county.
To quote a May 4, 1981, article entitled "Weekend Slaughter“ printed in our local paper, the Spokane Chronicle:
"It's a problem that has been with Spokane a long time young people migrating every weekend to Idaho drinking establishments where they can drink beer at age 19, two years sooner than Washington's minimum age of 21. Then, after an evening of drinking, they drive home through a gauntlet of reckless drivers.
When that procession begins, the 20-nile trip fron State Line to Spokane 18 not safe, even for a driver who hasn't touched a drop of alcohol. Cars weave in and out of traffic, many times at speeds in excess of 100 mph. Accidents
and injuries are frequent. Patalities are routine. In describing just one of those fatal accidents, the paper reported the words of a Washington State trooper:
"We figure the car was moving at a minimum of 110 miles an hour when it left the road. It bounced and flew into the air three different times before smashing into a fence post at the corner of the field."
I arrived a couple of minutes after it happened. The driver and passengers had been thrown out of the car. Some people had stopped and were trying to help. There was pandemonium and everyone was screaming."
That accident took the lives of two Spokane women. One was 18, the other 19. They were sisters. They had been drinking with friends at State Line, Idaho, and were on their way home when the accident occurred. The fact that one sister was just 18 and had been drinking in Idaho illustrates Idaho's permissive attitude which commonly allows even 15 and 16 year olds to drink without being checked for ID's.
A similar concern for this Idaho 19 year old drinking age 18 shared by our sister communities to the south, Pullman and Clarkston, whose Idaho counterparts, Moscow and Lewiston, constantly lure Washington under-21-year-olds across the border.
Despite strong public concern, Idaho has not yet accepted its responsibility to raise its legal drinking age. By its inaction, Idaho has sanctioned the disproportionate numbers of drinking-related accidents caused by youth, and has allowed our youth to keep on dying.
We've seen far too much death, injury, and destruction on our highways. the Subcommittee on Commerce, Transportation, and Tourism not only to support, but to champion HR 3870. It 18 your chance to help make our highways safer for all of us, and to protect the future of our youth!
Don Griffiths, Chairperson for
Recently, public attitudes toward drunk driving 2. the severity of the punishment and
ally happen in some states that have severe
Only where severe penalties are accompanied
by a public perception that there is a high proba-
There are three aspects of drunk-driving laws
1 the amount and type of entorcement,