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Impact of Minimum Age Legislation on Alcohol Related Juvenile Offenses

NCJ Number
C A McNeece
Date Published
14 pages
Data from Florida official records on arrests for disorderly intoxication and drunk driving are consistent with automobile accident data from other States in showing that drinking-related behaviors of adolescents increase when there is easier access to alcoholic beverages.
Official arrest records were examined for 1971-86. This provided a data base of 2 years prior to the initial lowering of the minimum age (from 21 years old to 18), a baseline of 7 years at the minimum purchase age of 18, a baseline of 5 years during the upward transition from 19 to 21, and 2 years of data since the reinstatement of the 21-year-old minimum purchase age. The arrest rate for juveniles per 10,000 of the child population (under age 18) was computed for three categories of alcohol-related offenses: drunk driving, disorderly intoxication, and general liquor law violations. When the minimum legal age for purchasing alcoholic beverages was lowered to 18 years old, youths in the under-18-year-old age group had higher instances of automobile fatalities, drunk driving, and disorderly intoxication. When the minimum age was raised, these rates decreased. 1 table, 3 figures and 11 references.