There are some new clever, but epicyclical, ways of determining whether someone is underage for drinking. For example, N.C. is considering vertical driver’s licenses for people under 21. Now that’s smart, but probably more bureaucratic and costly. So what would be the simple, copernican approach?
Let’s make everything happen at 18. Drinking age. Driving age. Voting age. Soldiering age. Currently it’s almost cliche to say that you can go to war and vote, but not drink a beer. We entrust driving priveges to 16-year-olds — some of which would be better off with provisional or learners’ licenses. The state should have a single age at which someone is considered a fully responsible agent and citizen. Why not 18? No crazy driver’s licenses. No dubious restrictions based on traffic fatality reduction rates and drunk driving concerns. Just 18. Simple. Then we could prepare our children to be responsible citizens along the way without sending them mixed signals and unprincipled notions of rights and responsibilities.