The Debate On Lowering The Drinking Age

60 Minutes: Some Say Age Should Be Lowered To 18, But MADD And Others Strongly Disagree

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For that reason, he is one of the few chiefs of police in the country who publicly agrees with McCardell, and supports lowering the drinking age.

Asked what the advantage is to lowering the age to 18, Beckner said, "The overall advantage is we're not trying to enforce a law that's unenforceable. The abuse of alcohol and the over-consumption of alcohol and DUI driving. Those are the areas we've gotta focus our efforts. Not on chasing kids around trying to give 'em a ticket for having a cup of beer in their hand."

Part of Beckner's jurisdiction is the University of Colorado at Boulder, known as one of the country's top party schools. Boulder was the scene of the terrible tragedy of Gordie Bailey.

Gordie was 18, a freshman at the University of Colorado in 2004. He had been there only one month when he underwent a Chi Psi fraternity initiation with 26 other pledges also underage. Leslie and Michael Lanahan are Gordie's mother and stepfather.

They say the pledges were asked to drink 10 gallons of hard alcohol and wine in half an hour.

"You were certainly viewed as a better man if you could handle more," his mother said.

Asked how much Gordie actually drank, his stepfather told Stahl, "He had had 15 to 20 shots if you had to measure it. They were not putting it into shots and drinking it. It was just guzzling out of the neck of the bottle."

By the time the group got back to the fraternity house, Lanahan says that Gordie was incapacitated. "His eyes were rolling back in his head and he couldn't walk. This isn't something somebody who'd just had too much to drink. He was clearly in trauma."

Lanahan says that the fraternity brothers put Gordie on the library couch, and just left him there, alone. "The president of the fraternity did ask several brothers at intervals to go in and take Gordie's pulse, as if to say 'Tell me if he's alive or dead.'"

Lanahan told Stahl Gordie lay passed out on a couch for nine hours, until someone called 911 for help.

"We got a guy who's passed out. He drank way too much and we found him this morning," a student told a 911 operator.

Asked if Gordie was breathing, the student told the operator, "I don't know. He's not waking up."

"Gordie died alone in an empty room with his friends surrounding him. And it's just very preventable. Just inexcusable," Lanahan told Stahl.

Gordie died of alcohol poisoning. To try and prevent another senseless death, the Lanahans have created the Gordie Foundation to spread the word about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and recently released "Haze," a film about excessive drinking on college campuses.

"If the drinking age had been 18 instead of 21, would the kids have called for help when Gordie passed out?" Stahl asked Leslie Lanahan.

"I think so," she replied.

"So because it was illegal you think that's why they didn't call?" Stahl asked.

"I think that's right," Lanahan said.

Asked if he agreed with that, Michael Lanahan told Stahl, "Well, they had alcohol in the fraternity house which was against their policy. They had minors buying the alcohol, serving the alcohol to minors. They had to make a decision about what they were going to do and unfortunately they made the wrong decision."