Could You Lose Your License to Drink?


Jun 23, 2015

Group of friends making a toast

Photo by AntonioDiaz/Fotolia

This commentary originally appeared on CNN on June 23, 2015.

Inside the Washington beltway and in state capitols across America, there is growing bipartisan agreement about the need for criminal justice reform.

Republican Newt Gingrich and Democrat Van Jones entered the fray recently with a CNN op-ed about America's failing prison system, joining the chorus for change that includes everyone from the ACLU to the Koch brothers. But if America is going to get serious about decreasing incarceration and crime at the same time, it needs to deal with a dangerous drug inextricably linked with accidents, assaults and death: alcohol.

How? Well, here's a provocative but potentially transformative idea: If your alcohol use causes you to behave in a way that threatens public health and public safety, let's suspend your license to drink.

In the United States, everyone gets an unconditional license to purchase and consume as much alcohol as they want when they turn 21....

The remainder of this commentary is available on

Beau Kilmer is co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and co-author of the forthcoming second edition of "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know."