Tavern officials, police react to proposed drinking age change - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Tavern officials, police react to proposed drinking age change


Chippewa Valley (WQOW)- Old enough to elect our president and old enough to serve our country, but not old enough to have a beer? Now some Wisconsin law makers are trying to change that.

"People don't give younger adults enough credit for what they are capable of, being able to do and manage and control in their own lives," said Court'n House Manager Laura Girolamo.

A bill proposed Wednesday would make it legal to drink in Wisconsin at the age of 19, but only if the state does not lose federal highway funding. One of the sponsors is a former Wisconsin Tavern League President. Eau Claire County Tavern League President Dino Amundson said the Tavern League has not taken an official stance on the bill, but would likely support it.

"It could be a positive, definitely for a lot of establishments. But on the flip side of that we've been used to this for so long, since 1986, that we will continue, we will preserve, we will move ahead and I think everything is going to be just fine," said Amundson.

It is legal to be a server at a bar in Wisconsin at the age of 18, as well as being a bartender. Some make the argument that if you can be behind the bar, you should be able to have a seat in front of it.

"I think you would have less problems if they were in a controlled environment with adults serving them who aren't drinking, who are responsible, knowing their limits, if they seem like they've had too much maybe getting them some water, getting them some food, just kind of keeping more in check with them. And, too, we have a university here, so let's let them in, I mean they're great for the community and I think they should all be allowed to check it out," said Girolamo.

The bill's sponsors argue that lowering the drinking age will free countless hours and resources that are spent enforcing underage drinking laws, especially on college campuses. But University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Police said nothing would really change because officers only stop people if they're doing something illegal, and that doesn't matter if they are 19 or 39.

"I think they should have the rights, they should have the same rights as a 21 year old. Why wait until 21 to be able to have a beer? It doesn't make any sense," Amundson said.

"They're going to be out in the real world sooner or later, and what better way to let them manage their social life, their student life, their work life, and get them kind of all around acclimated to what's come in the future," Girolamo said.

One of the most common arguments in favor of lowering the drinking age is, if you're old enough to serve our country you should be able to have a beer. News 18 reached out to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps recruiters Thursday but both declined to comment.

Related Link: Bill would lower drinking age in Wisconsin to 19

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