Should the California drinking age be lowered to 18?

- Should the drinking age in Los Angeles and the rest of California be lowered to 18? The "Minimum Drinking Age Initiative Statute'' would do just that.

On Friday, the secretary of state's office gave backers of the measure approval to begin collecting petition signatures that could put the idea before voters in the November election next year.

Top state financial officials said in their official review that if the drinking age were lowered from 21 to 18, California could lose about $200 million each year in federal highway funds. However, there would be increased state and local tax revenues due to the expected increase in alcohol sales to the additional young drinkers.

They estimated only that the additional tax revenues would amount to "possibly several million dollars annually.''

There was no immediate word from backers or opponents of the proposed law, but it was expected that some law enforcement officials and anti-drunk driving organizations may be against the idea.

Backers need to collect 365,880 valid signatures by April 26 in order to qualify for the November ballot next year.

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