The North Carolina General Assembly passed the Safe Roads Act of 1983 and stipulated that the law would become effective on October 1, 1983. The law had many parts, but it most specifically dealt with drunk driving. The law raised the drinking age in North Carolina from 18 to 19 for beer and wine. The United States Congress would further increase the drinking age nationally the next year with the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, 23 USC § 158, which mandated that states raise the drinking age to 21 or the government would withhold ten percent of the federal funding for highways. North Carolina complied with the federal law.
Many students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington voiced opposition and protested the fairness of the new law. The Seahawk published editorials against the Safe Roads Act. The treasurer of the SGA even wrote, in an open letter published in the Seahawk on April 16, 1981, that one of the greatest accomplishments of the group during the 1981-1982 school year had been a resolution passed to stand in opposition of the law.
While many UNCW students stood in oppostion the administration and the campus police saw the change as a positive, because drinking and parties involving alcohol had become a problem for the school and had begun to tarnish the image of UNCW. Student drinking continued to plague the administration for the years to come.