Local College President Against Lowering Legal Drinking Age

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - The United States is the only country where the minimum drinking age is 21.  Some countries, like China, the host of the 2008 Olympics have no minimum age.

But depending on who you ask, the consequences of lowering it to 18 here could be nothing short of disastrous.

"Young people drink to get drunk.  It's party time.  And they drink for that good feeling and that feeling comes from being drunk," Charles Hodges with Stop DWI Inc., said.

Strong words from the Administrator of Stop DWI Inc., a very strong advocate against lowering the drinking age.

In fact, he has some advice for those that can't wait to get that first legal drink.

"I always tell young people, if you want to drink before you're 21, join the army.  That's a good place to do it, because the base isn't regulated by this law. Then when you're 21, get out and go to college," Hodges said.

Hodges says that according to statistics, the only thing that can come of lowering the legal age to 18 is an increase in DUI arrests, accidents and unfortunately, deaths.  It can also have a negative effect on a young person's college career.

"Statistical data shows that in college, those who drink regularly on a regular basis have less grade point average.   And it's more difficult to stay awake the next morning," Hodges said.

UTPB President Dr. David Watts is not among the 100 that supports the amethyst initiative, in fact, he totally disagrees with his colleagues.

"While I'm in favor of discussion on any topic, almost at any time, I think fundamentally it would be bad idea to lower the drinking age," Watts said.

Some Universities have the dubious distinction of being recognized as party schools something Watts says is a hard image to shake.

"It's a struggle. A party school reputation tends to attract a student who wants to party more or drink more and frankly what we're here for is to provide education," Watts said.

Hodges agrees and says Colleges don't like the publicity they get for being known as a party school, but says by lowering the drinking age, there is only one step left.

"The next move would be to put a pub on campus," Hodges said.

Charles Hodges is getting ready for a trip to Nashville where he will attend a symposium on underage drinking.  He says he has been in contact with Congressman Mike Conaway who also is totally opposed to the lowering of the drinking age.