Bill filed by Rep. Canales to lower the drinking age to 18 in Texas for active duty U.S. military personnel
Active duty U.S. military personnel in Texas would be able to purchase and drink alcoholic beverages beginning at age 18 years under legislation that has been filed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, featured here addressing constituents during the Thursday, February 6, 2014 grand opening of his District Office in Edinburg.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
House Bill 3831, introduced on Friday, March 13, would lower the drinking age from 21 to 18, but only for men and women who are serving their country in the U.S. armed forces, allowing them to purchase and be served those beverages anywhere in the state. Such military servicemen and servicewomen would still be subject to all other state laws relating to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, including punishments for driving under the influence and public intoxication. They also would have to show valid military identification proving they are on active duty. According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the Common Access Card (CAC), a “smart” card about the size of a credit card, is the standard identification for active duty uniformed service personnel, Selected Reserve, DoD civilian employees, and eligible contractor personnel. It is also the principal card used to enable physical access to buildings and controlled spaces, and it provides access to DoD computer networks and systems. “These young men and women bravely volunteer to defend our country against the tyrants, despots, and dictators of the world, they receive the best hand-to-hand combat training, they handle the most sophisticated weapons and weapon systems on the planet, and they are required to meet the highest standards of conduct in their profession,” said Canales. “Surely they have earned the right to have a mixed drink, beer or wine when they leave their military bases to come into our towns and cities, just like anyone who is at least 21 years of age can enjoy.” Canales’ HB 3831 is the latest attempt in Texas to lower the drinking age for active duty military veterans, the House District 40 state lawmaker said, and noted other states are filing similar legislation this year. Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, filed House Bill 892 during the 83rd Regular Session of the Texas Legislature in 2013. However, that measure never received a public hearing before the House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures, and the proposal died. Canales’ legislation, HB 3831, as of Thursday, March 19, was awaiting an upcoming referral to a House committee. “Texas has some pretty tough laws to crack down on DWI, and even laws that can result in a $500 fine for a driver or a passenger to have an open alcohol container in a vehicle, and I strongly support those laws,” said Canales, who is a member of the crime-fighting House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. “But trying to play ‘nanny’ to U.S. military professionals is nonsense. They should be treated as adults in every sense of the word.” Canales said he would offer an amendment to his bill to make the law contingent on Texas getting a waiver from the federal government that would keep federal transportation funding in place. The U.S. government has a policy that it will deny a portion of federal transportation money for states which lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 punishes any state that allows persons younger than 21 years to purchase and publicly possess alcoholic beverages by reducing its annual federal highway funding to that state by 10 percent.