Proposed ballot initiative aims to lower drinking age in California

A proposed ballot initiative has been approved to collect signatures by people hoping to lower the legal drinking age to 18 in California.

Drunk driving is a serious problem in California, and the upcoming holiday season may only increase the numbers of drunk driving accidents, injuries and deaths. The latest statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 867 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in California in 2013. These numbers were higher than the previous three years. They also don't take into account the sheer number of people who suffered injuries in motor vehicle collisions with those who were driving while intoxicated.

Possible vote to lower California's legal drinking age

Many in California are hoping for a measure to go through that would lower the legal drinking age to 18 in the state. KTLA News reported that a ballot initiative proposal was approved to start collecting signatures. The initiative would need 365,880 signatures supporting the issue by April 26, 2016, in order to qualify for voting next November.

Proponents of the initiative say that the issue isn't as much about being able to drink as it is about equal rights. They say people are considered to be adults at age 18, with all of the rights and responsibilities of adults except for the right to partake in alcohol.

Those against the issue appeal to drunk driving facts

There is a reason the national drinking age is set at 21, states Mothers Against Drunk Driving. People can make irresponsible drinking decisions at any age, but younger people are known for being influenced by their peers in regards to alcohol and other substances. They also have less experience behind the wheel or in understanding the facts and risks regarding drunk driving.

MADD asserts that crashes are the top cause of fatalities among teenagers, and that alcohol is involved in about one-fourth of young people killed in accidents. The organization also states that before the minimum drinking age of 21 was established across the country, younger drivers were involved in more than twice as many fatal drunk driving accidents than they are today.

Potential consequences

There are additional consequences to the proposed initiative that people may not have taken into consideration. If approved, California would lose about $200 million in highway funds from the federal government. There would also likely be an increase in state and local taxes from alcohol sales.

Every day, about 30 people are killed across the United States as a result of drunk drivers, state the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young people between the ages of 21 and 24 are among those most at risk, which may suggest that those under 21 are not ready for the responsibilities of legally drinking. People who are injured by drunk drivers may need to get in contact with a California personal injury attorney.