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Law men don't like alcohol law change

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

August 21, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - There's a nationwide movement to lower the drinking age to 18. It's called the Amethyst Initiative and more than 100 university chancellors and presidents support it.

But Georgia law enforcement officers are strongly opposed to it, saying it will lead to more deaths.

Albany State University Assistant Police Chief John Fields deals with their students daily, and says lowering the drinking age would be bad.

"Being a parent and a law enforcement officer, I have seen these things increase over the years, and you just don't want to do it. It's not a good idea," Albany State University Police Asst. Chief John Fields.

114 University leaders have signed support to lower the drinking age, saying the 21 year old minimum is not working, and has created a culture of binge drinking. But Georgia's Governor's Office of Highway Safety says lowering the drinking age to 18 would only encourage more drinking.

Safe Communities Coordinator Michele DeMott said, "We firmly oppose that position, and feel like when students have more availability, and legal availability, they are going to drink more."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the 21-year-old minimum age drinking law has reduced traffic fatalities by 13%, saving 900 lives every year.

 "You have some kids in high school today who are 18 years old, and we have that thing called peer pressure," Fields said.

Kaila Brinner, a college student who works at Ace's Liquors, says lowering the drinking age would just lead to more teenage drinking. " Oh no, much much more. I think it would be that much easier to go out and buy a 12 pack and have fun. But it would lead to very bad things."

The majority of Georgia universities, like Albany State, have not given support to lowering the 21 year old drinking age. Albany State has several programs to educate their students about underage drinking, including a zero tolerance policy against drinking and driving that requires their police to arrest students for breaking the law.

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