Food & Drink

New Hampshire Is Trying to Lower the Drinking Age

New Hampshire residents could soon give budding beer drinkers a yearlong head start from the rest of the country. A new bill working its way through the state government proposes changing the drinking age from 21 to 20—if that 20-year-old is drinking at home.

The bill would allow 20-year-olds to drink alcohol in private residences, taking a little heat off of house parties. They would not, however, be able to purchase, carry or consume alcohol in public.

“I think 20 is a reasonable lowering amount,” representative Dan Hynes, the sponsor of the bill, told NBC Boston. “21, I think, is just a ridiculously arbitrary amount, and if we look at how old you have to be to be to do certain things in this state: girls can marry at the age of 13, boys 14, drive at 16.”

The state’s motto is “live free or die,” but its libertarian preferences are stronger when it comes to young marriages than when it comes to young drinking. New Hampshire’s House of Representatives turned down a bill in 2016 that would allow 18-year-olds to drink beer or wine when accompanied by an adult, and it’s one of a few select states that have zero tolerance for underage drinking, even for religious ceremonies or under parental supervision, Boston.com writes.

New Hampshire’s not alone in wanting change. Wisconsin proposed lowering the drinking age to 19 in December of 2017, and Vermont tried to pass a similar bill all the way back in 2006. The hiccup is the Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 tied federal highway funding for the state to keeping the drinking age at 21. No states have passed a law yet. Until it happens, New Hampshirites will just have to wait like the rest of the country’s 20-year-olds.