South Dakota Drinking Age Initiative (2008)

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The Drinking Age initiative was an initiated state statute that would have lowered the South Dakota drinking age from the current 21 year old to 19 years old.


This initiative failed to make the ballot.


The sponsor of the initiative was a Flandreau lawyer, N. Bob Pesall. He believed that if one was considered an adult at 18, then they should have received the privileges of being an adult including drinking. Also--a majority of minors and adults under 21 blatantly ignored drinking laws, making them unenforceable.

"The federal government simply has no business trying to regulate the age at which people in any given state can purchase alcohol," Pesall said. "Constitutionally, the regulation of alcohol is a matter reserved to the individual states, and it should be treated this way."[1]

Research supporting lowering the drinking age

Federal government

Federal statistics showed that from 1984 (when the national minimum legal drinking age was enacted) to 1998, drunk driving fatalities caused by people under 21 dropped by 61%, and dropped 58% for people aged 21-24. The 3% difference was statistically insignificant.

Asch and Levi

According to experts Asch and Levi's federally-funded study, the "legal drinking age has no perceptible influence on fatalities," and had slightly accelerated the decrease in alcohol-related fatal crashes among people under 21 that's occurred since the 1970's. Asch and Levi show that this acceleration was compensated for in fatal crashes caused by people aged 21-24.

Dee and Evans

A 2001 American Economics Association paper by Swarthmore and Maryland University professors Dee and Evans supported Asch and Levi's findings. Their report stated:

The nationwide increases in the [minimum legal drinking age] have merely shifted some of the fatality risks from teens to young adults.


The Rapid City Journal wrote an editorial condemning the initiative, believing it to be "bad fiscal policy, bad public safety policy and bad social policy."[2]

See also

External links