Swearingen, Two Other Rep. Ask To Lower State's Drinking Age

Nov 9, 2017

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Wisconsin's drinking age would be lowered from 21 to 19 if three Republican representatives get their bill passed.

Rob Swearingen of Rhinelander, a former president of the state's Tavern League, has joined Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake and Cindi Duchow of Delafield in asking colleagues to cosponsor their bill.

Swearingen says national drinking age was set by the federal government in 1984, with a highway funds penalty if a state didn't enact the 21 year old minimum drinking age....

"....here we are 30 years later. Obviously things have changed here in the state and in Washington, D.C. The thought was we would get the conversation started here in Madison with legislators and across Wisconsin as far as as to whether the 21 year old drinking age is working...."

He says the current bill appears to have produced a lot of underage drinking...

"....there is plenty of underage drinking going on, minors drinking, The goal is to get the kids out of the cornfields and out of the gravel pits and out of somebodies basement and get into a supervised setting, they can get a safe ride home. This bill hinges on not losing federal highway funds...."

Sponsors hope the federal government will work with the state on that. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos opposes a lower drinking age and can prevent a vote on it.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving told WMTV in Madison they oppose the lower age, citing studies about reduced traffic deaths. A spokesperson thinks the lower age bill won't go far if highway funds are endangered.