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National Minimum Drinking Age Law: Perceptions of Its Effectiveness to Deter Juvenile Alcohol Use

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Studies; A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society Volume: 22 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2009 Pages: 167-179
John A. Lewis; Philip E. Carlan
Date Published
June 2009
13 pages
This study examined the perceived effectiveness of the National Minimum Drinking Age (NMDA) Law.
The findings of the study suggest that strategies currently employed to reduce public intoxication were unsuccessful. Laws intended to prevent public intoxication were ineffective either through design or enforcement. Of the 84 respondents in the study under the age of 21, only 4 or 5 percent cited legal reasons for not consuming alcohol, while 61 or 73 percent reported consuming alcohol. The results suggest that the establishment of an arbitrary drinking age had little impact on juvenile access to alcohol or juvenile alcohol use. The NMDA law has come under attack in several studies that believe the law is ineffective in preventing juveniles from obtaining or drinking alcohol. The intent of this research study was to determine whether college students perceived the NMDA law as a deterrent to committing the offense of public intoxication. College students were surveyed about their probability of being arrested should they commit this offense of public intoxication, and their perceptions of what legal and social sanctions would occur if they were arrested for public intoxication, as well as how severe the perceived sanctions would be. Tables and references