Drinking laws fight more than underage offenders

By Tom Chader

Legal restrictions designed to prevent underage drinking are not always successful, but quite often lead to complications in the lives of those unaware of the legal penalties.

According to the DeKalb police, there were 301 alcohol-related arrests in 1992 in DeKalb. That includes possession of open containers, using fake IDs to enter premises where alcohol is being sold and selling alcohol without a license.

Michael Cloud, who was arrested during the Corn Fest weekend for selling alcohol without a license in an apartment, now is scheduled to appear in court on September 24.

“I was not selling liquors for a profit,” Cloud said. “We just had decided to have a party to meet more people and the money was for pitching alcohol since we were not going to be drinking at all.”

“Yes, we wanted to get together and have fun, but we didn’t go to a bar because it was more comfortable and cheaper (at home),” he added.

“I feel that I have been treated fairly so far. I will retain no lawyer for defense,” said Cloud.

While many laws are specifically aimed at curbing underage drinking, many students seem to miss the point of the legislation according to Michael Haines of University Health Enhancement Services.

“I asked my students to discuss the matter of legal drinking age laws in my class,” said Haines. “What had surprised me, they were discussing just the matter of whether the age limit should be 18, 19 or 20 years. To my amazement, the students couldn’t even conceive the reality that the age itself is not the issue, and there’s no such age limit in many European countries.”

In other words, people seem to concentrate on how to stay within the law and ignore questioning their drinking habits.

According to a survey published in U. College Newspaper, the number of college students who reported that they had driven after having several drinks decreased from 59 percent to 43 percent by 1991.

The decrease followed a federal highway funding act forcing all states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 in 1986.

According to the same survey, six percent of students missed a class because of a hangover, and the same number of people had gotten into a fight after drinking. Meanwhile, the number of people who have had trouble with the law because of drinking has doubled.

According to the survey, these problems are made worse because students are forced to drink off campus—in less monitored environments.