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Bierman, Maurice, president, Wine & Spirits Retailers of New Jersey
Blanda, Captain Anthony, assistant operations officer, New Jersey State
Burnett, Jim, Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board.
National Liquor Stores Association, National Beer Wholesalers Associa-
tion, and Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America
United States, Inc..
Meister, Frederick A., president and chief executive officer, Distilled
Spirits Council of the United States, Inc...
Ozer, Katherine, legislative director, U.S. Student Association
dent Association, State University of New York College..
Yeager, Arthur, D.D.S., vice president, Physicians for Automotive Safety ..
Material submitted for the record by-Continued
Response to Senator Robert Packwood on the Insurance Institute's
PROHIBIT THE SALE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
TO PERSONS UNDER 21 YEARS OF AGE
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1983
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m., in room 2322, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. James J. Florio (chairman) presiding.
Mr. FLORIO. The subcommittee will come to order.
A number of the members, including the ranking minority member, Mr. Lent, are on their way, and we will go forward in the interest of accommodating the time schedule of the witnesses. I would like to welcome all in attendance to the first of what will be 2 days of hearings on the legislation, H.R. 3870, a bill to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages to those under the age of 21 years.
This bill is an important step that in my opinion must be taken to combat the carnage on our national highways caused by drunken driving. Each year, over 50,000 people are killed in automobile accidents. Half of those deaths are caused by drunken drivers. In disproportionate numbers, these drivers appear to be young people. The 20-year-old age category is a particular problem.
Each year, alcohol related highway accidents create economic losses of over $20 billion, and incalculable losses in terms of human suffering, wasted potential, social dislocation, and death. It is a disgrace in my opinion that we have not long ago moved to deal with this problem in a much more effective way.
As we take legislative action to set a national drinking age, we should recognize that the ground work has already been substantially laid. The situation presents a classic case for Federal action. The States have served, as they should, as laboratories yielding evidence indicating the correct Federal solution.
A recent study by researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that when there is an increase in fatal crashes for younger drivers, especially crashes involving alcohol, that there is a direct correlation between the drinking age and the incidence of those accidents.
When in the mid-1970's some States reversed course and increased the drinking age, there was a decrease in such fatal crashes.
The time is ripe for a national solution to this national problem. Based on the experiences of the States, the data shows that a 21year-old drinking age will lower nighttime fatal crashes of the affected age group by 28 percent. Each year there will be more than 700 young people who will be saved by this law. This bill will in fact save lives.
Interestingly enough, a recent Gallup poll released this year reveals that a large majority of the 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds themselves would favor a 21-year-old drinking age. This is because, I am sure, a vast majority of young people are responsible and appreciate the benefit from this legislation.
Because of this, as I said, these young people are willing to accept a temporary restriction on themselves to help restrain those who are less responsible, and thereby create a better situation on a society wide basis.
H.R. 3870 would subject any establishment selling alcoholic beverages to someone under 21 to civil penalties and citizen suits. However, it would not prevent the States from imposing additional sanctions under their traditional scope of authority.
I do not suggest that this bill will completely resolve the drunk driving problem. On the contrary, as we all know, driving and drinking represents one of the most complex social problems. However, there appears to be a substantial consensus on the value of raising the drinking age. This consensus includes the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving, governmental and police law enforcement officials, various parent groups, physicians, and a whole host of other groups, many of whom we will hear from today.
There are also, obviously, contrary views which will be represented today and in our second day of hearings. We are grateful for the participation of those who will be taking part in this 2 days of hearings that I hope will build a record that will allow us to go forward in an expeditious fashion. It is my hope that we will be able to put this legislation on the fast track, and that within the terms of this Congress, we will be in a position to move forward.
I would like to at this point recognize the ranking minority member, who is a cosponsor of this legislation, who has been very helpful in developing it, Mr. Lent.
[The text of H.R. 3870 follows:
H. R. 3870
To restrict the sales of alcoholic beverages in interstate commerce.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SEPTEMBER 13, 1983 Mr. Florio introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee
on Energy and Commerce
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa
2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. The Congress finds that
(1) consumption of alcoholic beverages by those driving automobiles and other vehicles is a major cause of accidents, resulting in numerous fatalities and injuries and in the destruction of property with far-reach
ing social and economic consequences;