Friday, November 11, 2011

Kids driving too early, drinkin' too late

Royal Caribbean cruise lines is to be applauded for lowering their on-board drinking ages in some progressive ports to 18.

I hope our our state governments double down and lower them to 14.

That’s when kids, I think, are old enough to drink. Not in a bar, certainly. The age of bar patrons should be up to the discretions of wise bar owners within the law.

I remember once when some giddy kids came into my favorite dive and betrayed their youth by ordering three Zimas. Remember those? They were a mildly alcoholic beverage so sickly sweet whiskey drinkers like me would pour them on our Lucky Charms.

The order tipped the cranky bartender right off. He needed to see some IDs.

Proud as punch, the kids blurted out, “Oh, we’re all legal! We’re 23.”

The bartender, a foul-mouthed old Marine said, “Get the hell out. You can’t drink in here ‘til you’re 30.”

If these kids had been drinking since they were 14, they’d know how to behave in a real bar and would save the Zimas for the precious little sixth graders.

I know some parents will disagree and say it’s irresponsible. Kids aren’t ready to drink at such a precocious age. They believe more young drinkers will increase highway mayhem.

I’m way ahead of you.

When you lower the drinking age to 14, you raise the driving age to 27.

This would overnight reduce traffic and fuel consumption by 15 percent. Gas prices would plummet. Air quality would improve. Rush hour traffic would be a breeze.

The sole exception to the kids-can’t-drive-till-they’re-adults rule would be in cases when they’re needed as designated drivers for drunk parents.

Have you been following this story? You may have missed it in the crush of news about Penn State, Herman Cain and, um, oh . . . I can’t remember the third one . . .

Oh, yeah! Rick Perry’s inability to remember three things!

I’m talking about Detroit drunk Shawn Weimer, 39, who was arrested October 8, even though he was responsible enough to get a sober designated driver.

Unfortunately for him, the sober designated driver was his daughter and she’s 9. Nine! A judge is right now deciding whether the charge deserves felony or misdemeanor consideration.

It’s a fascinating case. The girl is seen on multiple security videos expertly maneuvering the vehicle from her booster seat.

She’s obviously a capable motorist, but she was pulled over at 3 a.m. so she’s bound to be in violation of some nitpicky Michigan bedtime law. How would you rule?

One of my favorite Alan Jackson songs is a 2002 country ditty called “Drive.” It’s about his fond memories of his father letting him take the wheel when they drove trash to the town dump.

It was just an old hand-me-down Ford

Three-speed on the column, a dent in the door

A young boy, two hands on the wheel

I can’t replace the way it made me feel!

And I would press that clutch and I would steer it right

And he’d say, ‘A little slower, son, you’re doin’ jus’ fine!’

Just a dirt road with trash on each side,

But I was Mario Andretti when Daddy let me . . .


The song concludes with him sharing the soul-soothing pleasure he gets letting his own young daughters drive. It’s magnificent.

So, of course, I let both my lap-mounted daughters, ages 11 and 5, take turns steering the Saturn Vue on Sunday mornings at the empty mall parking lot.

They love it and I know I’m making memories that’ll last lifetimes.

It never occurred to me until after reading about Weimer that I could add to the family fun by getting all gooned up while the kids are in Sunday school.

I’ll conclude by wishing you all a wonderful weekend. Relax. Have fun.

And if you’re going to drink, please do so responsibly.

Have a sober 9-year-old available to drive.


Alchoholic Beverage Law said...

Really enjoyed the article! You make some very interesting points. Thanks so much for sharing!

Chris Rodell said...

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