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Introduced by Representatives Peterson of Williston, Cheney of Norwich, Clarkson of Woodstock, Clerkin of Hartford, Deen of Westminster, Edwards of Brattleboro, Evans of Essex, Fisher of Lincoln, Keogh of Burlington, Livingston of Manchester, Masland of Thetford, McAllister of Highgate, Minter of Waterbury, Moran of Wardsboro, O’Donnell of Vernon, Pearson of Burlington, Perry of Richford, Rodgers of Glover and Zuckerman of Burlington

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Alcoholic beverages; drinking age; study commission; report

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to study the implications of lowering the drinking age to 18.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:



(a)  There is created a drinking age study commission to study the implications and costs of lowering the drinking age to 18.  The commission shall be composed of 15 members representing various entities. 

(1)  The following entities shall each appoint a member to the commission:

(A)  Department of liquor control.

(B)  Department of public safety.

(C)  Department of health, office on alcohol and drug abuse programs.

(D)  State’s attorneys office.

(E)  Department of education.

(F)  The house of representatives, by the speaker of the house.

(G)  The senate, by the committee on committees.

(2)  The governor shall appoint a representative from each of the following entities:

(A)  College or university administration.

(B)  College or university law enforcement organization.

(C)  Nonprofit youth services organization.

(D)  Stop teen alcohol risk team (START).

(E)  Center for health and learning.

(F)  Mothers against drunk driving (MADD).

(G)  Choose responsibility.

(H)  Vermont secondary or postsecondary students.

(b)  The commission shall undertake a comprehensive analysis of the benefits and disadvantages of the present drinking age of 21 and the implications of lowering the drinking age to 18.  The commission shall offer recommendations for state and federal action in light of its findings and issue a report to the senate committees on judiciary and on economic development, housing and general affairs; the house committees on commerce, on judiciary, and on general, housing and military affairs; and the governor on or before December 1, 2008.  In its deliberations, the commission shall consider at least the following:

(1)  Experiences of other countries such as Canada and members of the European Union in which there is a lower drinking age or no minimum drinking age.  

(2)  The usefulness in reducing underage and binge drinking of a standardized alcohol education course coupled with provisional licensing for 18- to 20-year-olds, including the cost to implement these programs.

(3)  The impact of a lower drinking age coupled with alcohol education and a provisional drinking license on the rates of alcohol consumption and abuse by 18- to 20-year-olds and those under 18, related violence, negative consequences, and drunk driving.

(4)  The effectiveness of underage drinking enforcement in Vermont and the impact of education and licensing of 18- to 20-year-olds on enforcement.

(5)  The cost implications of lowering the drinking age in regard to prosecution, courts, enforcement, lost time at school or work, treatment, and families.

(6)  The National Minimum Drinking Age Act.

(7)  Actions and proposed changes to drinking policies in other states.

(c)  The members of the commission shall elect a chair.  The commission shall meet no fewer than five times between July 1 and November 15, 2008, and shall issue a report to the general assembly no later than November 15, 2008.  Appointments to the commission shall be made no later than July 1, 2008.

(d)  The department of public safety shall provide administrative support to the commission.  The commission may also request administrative support from the department of liquor control and the department of education as needed.


This act shall take effect on passage.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont