Drinking age in New York
The New York legal drinking age used to be 19, but the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 coerced the state into raising its drinking level to 21, or else it would have lost 10% of its highway construction funds. The New York Legislature raised the age to drink to 21 in response to this law. Prior to the age being raised to 19, it had been 18 for several years, before 1982 when it was changed up to 19. People who are under the age of 21 are proscribed from purchasing alcohol or having alcohol with the purpose to consume, unless a parent gave them the alcohol. They can drink alcohol in public, and even in restaurants and bars, as long as they are with their parents. However, people who are less than 21 are proscribed from having blood alcohol levels of greater than .02% while they’re out driving.
The laws in the United States didn’t use to be so restrictive against drinking under the age of 21. However, there were a lot of drunk driving fatalities in the 1980s that caused the federal government to act, and they tried to get the 50 states to raise their drinking ages to 21, and all the states complied, because they would have lost 10% of their highway construction funds if they hadn’t. This was a big point of contention and debate in the 50 states. People were angry that the 10th Amendment was seemingly being skirted. Some people consider it a form of age discrimination because the age of majority is 18, and that’s the age when people can do all adult things. So, to prohibit people that are 18-20 from drinking just seems unfair. The courts, however, are hesitant to do anything about it, because they are too politically correct.
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Some states are considering lowering their drinking ages to 18, and it would make sense for New York to do so because they were one of the main states to have a drinking age at, or near, 18 for so many years. Plus, they have a long, rich history of alcohol consumption as a cultural expression, and there are more diverse cultures than New York than any other state. Their drinking ages and customers run the whole gamut, and lowering the drinking age would just make sense in a state with the most cultural diversity of any other.
New York is a very liberal state, and they would probably have kept their drinking age at 19 with the federal government not getting involved in the several states’ drinking laws. However, it happened, and that was the way it went down, and now states have to turn the tide back themselves and change their drinking laws one-by-one. Some states are happy with the drinking laws though, and have no intention of changing them. New York is a place where people of Italy, France, Germany, England, Belgium, and more have immigrated to for centuries, and drinking at a younger age is a part of their culture.