Appealing to Vermont's independent streak, the former president of Middlebury College says the state is an ideal place to try returning the legal drinking age to 18.
John McCardell, who also heads a national organization that supports the change, told lawmakers Thursday that a federal law withholding highway funding from states that don't abide by the 21-year-old minimum has stifled debate of a worthy idea.
But alcohol policy expert David Jernigan says dropping the age limit would simply lead to people drinking at a younger age.
Under the law, states that don't maintain the 21-year-old minimum risk losing 10 percent of their annual federal transportation funding.
Vermont Agency of Transportation spokesman John Zicconi says that would be about a $17.5 million loss in Vermont.