Seven-hour wait for new 21-year-olds to legally drink could be on tap
Bar trips for freshly turned 21-year-olds will have to be postponed if a proposed legislative amendment receives Oklahoma lawmakers’ support.
- Yes 55%
- No 45%
22 total votes.
Rebekah Cornwell, The Oklahoma Daily
Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, has introduced House Bill 3100, which would ban the sale of alcohol to 21-year-olds before 7 a.m. on their birthday.
The amendment is intended to prevent overconsumption of alcohol by 21-year-olds from midnight to 2 a.m. on their birthday, Williams said. Legally requiring people to wait until after 7 a.m. to purchase alcohol would encourage responsible drinking over several hours instead of heavy drinking over just two hours, Williams said.
A constituent proposed the idea after her daughter spent time in the hospital recovering from alcohol poisoning after drinking at midnight on her 21st birthday, Williams said.
More than 50,000 cases of alcohol poisoning are reported in the U.S. every year, according to World Health Organization statistics.
Whether the amendment is adopted, it always is dangerous for students to drink heavily in a short period of time, said Maggie Pool, OU Health Services Clinical Services assistant director, in an email.
Williams hopes banning the sale of alcohol to 21-year-olds at midnight on their birthday would lower the incidences of alcohol poisoning in Oklahoma, he said.
Ann Laudick, film and media studies junior, celebrated her 21st birthday in January with a free beer at midnight at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford Ave. Laudick did not drink any more on her birthday than she would normally consume, she said.
“I think it is kind of a personal thing,” Laudick said. “I don’t think a law would [stop] someone who is determined to get wasted on their 21st birthday.”
The amendment is intended to encourage people to spread their drinking over time, not to stop them from drinking, Williams said.
“I am not under any grand illusions that this is going to wipe out drinking, that this is going to eliminate people from celebrating their 21st with alcohol,” Williams said. “It is not my intent to do that with this bill. I am not trying to legislate people’s morality or decisions.”
Nancy Smith, manager at The Mont Restaurant, said servers at the restaurant do not continue to serve customers alcohol once they show signs of intoxication.
“It used to be the big thing that people would get 21 shots on their birthday. We do not allow that,” Smith said.
If the amendment is passed, Smith said she does not think it will change business.
“Kids will still come in the next day,” Smith said.
Jeff Steward, manager at the O’Connell’s Pub & Grille, said he sees a lot of students come in at midnight on their 21st birthday and overconsumption typically isn’t a problem. People usually drink too much when they drink before or after going to the bar, Steward said.
Williams said he has received push-back on the bill.
The bill currently is in the Legislature’s rules committee but may not be heard because it is not one of Williams’ top-eight bills, he said. Since the bill is not one of Williams’ priority bills, it may not be voted on in committee this session and, therefore, not brought up in the legislature at large.
“It’s a good bill but not a game-changer,” he said.
As the bill currently reads, drinking would be banned until 7 a.m. the day after person’s 21st birthday. Williams said this was a mistake, and the bill would be revised only to ban drinking until 7 a.m. on the day of a person’s 21st birthday.