Lawmaker seeks to lower drinking age in New Jersey

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One New Jersey lawmaker wants to lower the legal drinking age in the Garden State from 21 to 18. (WPVI)

One New Jersey lawmaker wants to lower the legal drinking age in the Garden State from 21 to 18.

His point: If you're old enough to serve in the military, you're old enough to drink. But his plan is already getting major pushback.

Since 1984 the drinking age in all 50 states has been 21 years old. But a New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill to lower the age to 18 in the Garden State.

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll says, "If you're enough to join the military, as two of my sons have, and to be handed an M4 and to be sent on lethal missions where you're risking your life, it seems to be you're adult enough to make the relatively trivial decision whether to buy a six pack of beer."

The father of five says you can vote, marry and buy a house at 18, so should the decision to drink or not.

But a spokesman for Mothers Against Drunk Driving says dropping the drinking age to 18 is a terrible idea.

Brandon English of MADD NJ says, "We have the science and data that backs up keeping the drinking age at 21 years old. The brain isn't fully developed. We save over 800 lives a year nationwide from the 21 year old drinking age."

The age limit was originally up to 21 to cut back on teenage drunk driving deaths. Assemblyman Carroll argues kids now have Uber, Lyft and other ways to get around so they can drink and not be tempted to get behind the wheel.

We asked some students at the College of New Jersey what they thought.

Danny Gallagher of Westfield tells us, "I do agree that when you become 18 you become mature enough to make your own decisions. So I would support that."

But Kelly Smith of Willingboro says, "Drinking is like a big responsibility and I feel like 18 is still kind of young to make that decision."

Anthony Dzugan agrees, saying, "I just don't think 18 is a responsible age. I think you're still a kid. I think you're young and I think you're definitely gonna make stupid decisions."

National polling suggests 74 percent of those asked oppose dropping the drinking age and New Jersey would risk losing millions of dollars in federal highway funds tied to keeping the 21 year old limit.

Carroll says, "It's a much more responsible generation, I think, than when we were kids."

Carroll says changing the drinking age will be an uphill battle, but he's not giving up.
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