Drinking learner permits

Merge|alcohol abuse|date=August 2007

Drinking learner permits have been proposed as a way to reduce alcohol abuse among young adults. Proponents argue that learner's permits would be analogous to driving learner permits. A person who wishes to obtain a driver's license must first acquire a learner's permit. This requires that the person pass a written test of driving knowledge and then pass a test of driving ability by successfully operating a motor vehicle. Issuance of the learner's permit then allows the driver to operate a vehicle under the oversight of an older driver and the permit holder is restricted to driving only during certain hours and under a number of other restrictions designed to help the person learn to drive safely.

Proponents of alcoholic beverage drinking learner permits argue that they should be available to adults age 18 to 21 with parental or guardian permission after successfully completing an alcohol education course and written tests. The permit would restrict the locations, times, and amounts of alcohol that could legally be consumed. The permit could be revoked immediately at any time by the parents or guardians or any law enforcement officer. [ [http://www.chooseresponsibility.org Choose Responsibility, drinking age, John McCardell, Middlebury, Changing the culture of Young Adult Drinking in America Choose Responsibility ] ] Opponents of drinking learner permits argue that persons under the age of 21 should not be permitted to drink any amount of alcohol for any reason, including religious, because they believe their brains lack the necessary physiological development. [ National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcohol Alert: Underage Drinking - A Major Public Health Challenge, Alcohol Alert #59, April, 2003.] Proponents emphasize that the applicability of this research to light and moderate drinking is speculative because it is based on rats and young people who are serious alcohol abusers who are typically in treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. It also fails to address the fact that Jews, Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese and many others typically drink from an early age without any reported cognitive impairment.

Opponents also argue that adults age 18, 19 and 20 lack the maturity to make informed decisions about drinking. Proponents emphasize that citizens are legally adults at the age of 18.

The organization Choose Responsibility actively promotes drinking learner permits.



* Brake, Mike. Needed: A license to drink. "Newsweek", March 14, 1994.
* Gavin, Courtney Love. A learner's permit for drinking. "Morgan Hill Times", February 6, 2004.
* Heath, Dwight B., and Hanson, David J. The misguided prohibition that governs U.S. colleges. "The Chronicle of Higher Education", 2001 (August 10), "47(48)", p. B14.

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