History

with citations

On April 14, 1982, President Reagan established the Presidential Commission Against Drunk Driving (PCDD). This commission established 39 recommendations to curb what was perceived to be a drunken driving epidemic. Taken together, the 39 recommendations were intended to be comprehensive approach with a goal of reducing the number of alcohol-related deaths on the nation’s highways. Recommendation number eight concerned the Minimum Legal Purchasing Age, and said that all states should raise the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) to 21, lest they lose a certain percentage of federal highway dollars. Though the target of the Commission’s recommendations was intended to be drunk driving across the adult population, the disproportionate amount of attention paid to establishing 21 as the national minimum drinking age shifted the nation’s focus to young people’s drinking. Exclusive interest in raising the drinking age marginalized the effect of the remaining 38 recommendations, among them suggestions to implement youth education programs, establish a massive public information campaign, and to increase penalties for convicted drunken drivers. Two years later, on July 17, 1984, after extensive lobbying from groups such as MADD, President Reagan signed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, effectively creating a national minimum drinking age of 21. By 1987, all 50 states had legislated Legal Age 21.