Lowering the Legal Drinking Age to 18
The legal drinking age in the United States is set at twenty-one years of age. I believe that considering twenty-one as the legal age of maturity is ridiculous. Who is to say that just because an individual is twenty-one means that they are mature enough to consume alcohol in a responsible manner? Changing the legal drinking age to eighteen should be enforced. Eighteen year-old individuals can take on many adult responsibilities, but they do not have the right to consume alcohol. Many feel this is unfair and biased. There is a tremendous controversy over whether to keep the legal drinking age at twenty-one, or to lower it to the legal age of adulthood, 18.
Congress passed the National Minimum Purchase Age Act in 1984. This law was passed to encourage each state to change their legal drinking age to twenty-one years of age. The congress believed that if they raised the minimum drinking age that it would save a significant number of lives. They figured that a twenty-one year old person was more mature than the average eighteen year-old. That, in my opinion, was a huge mistake. Just because a person lives to be twenty-one does not determine how mature they are. For example, there are many teenagers in the world that are considerably more mature than the average twenty-one year-old. The determination of legality in drinking should not be age, but rather maturity and ability to handle responsibility.
The twenty-one restriction seems out of date in todayâs society. Many parents of todayâs teenagers were legally allowed to drink at the age of eighteen. Todayâs teenagers face more responsibility and are treated much differently from the way their parents were treated. If twenty-one is considered so mature, then why is eighteen considered an adult? At the age of eighteen, an individual can vote, serve on a jury, stay out without a curfew, leave home, drive, smoke, buy weapons, engage in financial contracts, fornicate, start a family, be sent to adult prison, join the army, and die for this country. If an eighteen year-old can be held to so many responsibilities, then it seems unfair to say that they are not old enough to drink. At eighteen, a person can even have a closed container of alcohol in their possession, but they cannot drink it. That is absurd! Setting the legal age to purchase and consume alcohol is unrealistic in todayâs way of life. Prohibiting the sale of alcohol to people under the age of twenty-one may cause habits such as binge drinking and alcohol abuse. It just causes a rebellion. Keeping the age at twenty-one makes it seem as if an eighteen year-old is not a real adult. Drinking is then viewed as a glamorous activity since it is only for adults. Then, in rebellion, those underage will just find a way around it. For example, many have fake identification cards, steal alcohol from their parentsâ liquor cabinets, or even put another person in jeopardy by asking someone whom is twenty-one to illegally purchase the alcohol for the underage drinkers. This kind of deceitful attitude does not encourage responsible drinking habits. In addition, this gives young individuals the urge to drink even more when they get older so that they could make up for their so-called lost time, hence causing alcoholism.
The argument against changing the legal drinking age has many issues. Studies show that there was a thirteen- percent decline in the number of single-vehicle nighttime crashes among eighteen through twenty year-olds after the drinking age was raised to twenty-one. I believe that there will always be people that will drink and drive, and there is nothing anyone can do to completely stop it. The answer is not to raise the drinking age, but rather to educate more thoroughly the dangers of drinking alcohol to the youth. The United States is one of the few countries with such a prohibitive drinking age. In Europe, teenagers learn how to drink gradually, not excessively. In France, Spain and Portugal, the per capita consumption of alcohol is greater than in the United States, but the rate of alcoholism and alcohol abuse is still lower. That is the effect of educated and gradual drinking.
Learning how to drink in a safe and moderate manner is more important than worrying about the age of the individual. I believe that the arguments that were made as far as the number of car crashes there were after the legal drinking age was raised was merely a coincidence. People of all ages get into car accidents. Instead of restricting the eighteen year-old adults, the government should set up ways to better educate the public of the dangers and responsibilities that come with drinking. The arguments against lowering the age of the National Minimum Purchase Age Act are insufficient compared to the benefits of having the drinking age changed to eighteen. Since the number twenty-one has no real basis of maturity, the government should have kept the legal drinking age where it was and kept the public educated rather than taking a right away from the adults under the age of twenty-one.
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The Drinking Age Should Be Lowered to Eighteen
Why is it that eighteen-year-olds can legally obtain a driver's license, register to vote, be forced into jury duty or a draft, can be tried as an adult and even put to death, but cannot buy and consume alcoholic beverages legally? I think these laws are very contradicting. Eighteen-year-olds are supposed to be adults, responsible for their own actions, yet they must wait until the age of twenty-one to consume alcoholic beverages legally. The way to solve underage consumption is to allow those who are eighteen-years-old the ability to buy and consume alcohol legally. It seems absurd that this should be an exception.
Many people may think that lowering the drinking age will be more deadly on the highways. However, if young adults were more informed about the importance of a designated driver when intoxicated, for example, perhaps the outcome would be more positive.
Stricter law enforcement would also aid in the prevention of alcohol-related accidents. They could enact a zero tolerance policy, which would punish anyone who is caught in the act of an alcohol-related crime on the first offense, such as drunk driving.
Raising the driving age to eighteen instead of sixteen could also reduce traffic accidents in general. I think that sixteen is too young to be given power over a weapon as deadly as an automobile. However, since the legal driving age is sixteen, perhaps lawmakers should enact training requirements that are stricter for new drivers. For example, they could require more driving time with a certified instructor, or give them a probationary license for the first six months of their licensure.
Even though there have been many cases of irresponsible drinking by those under the age of twenty-one, I believe they can be taught to drink responsibly. Parental figures can teach young adults how to be responsible drinkers and about the consequences of irresponsible drinking. If they start at an early age, perhaps the number of alcohol-related incidents would decrease. Schools could also aid in the awareness of alcohol and its effects. They could make alcohol awareness classes mandatory for young adults. This may make today s young adults more aware of the seriousness of alcohol.
In many countries, drinking alcohol is part of everyday life for an eighteen-year-old. As they grow up, they are taught by their parents to drink responsibly. So far, this way of life appears to work for some countries. By returning the legal drinking age to eighteen and teaching young adults how to drinking responsibly, perhaps they would no longer see alcohol as a deviant action, but as a substance that is meant to be enjoyed mature young adults.
Keeping the drinking age at twenty-one is also unfair to responsible eighteen to twenty-year-olds. Why should they be punished for those who are irresponsible? From my own personal experience, I have found that it is very frustrating to be a nineteen-year-old college student. I consider myself to be a mature nineteen-year-old, and I feel that I could drink responsibly, if I were permitted to do so legally. I don t understand why we are considered to be legal adults, and are expected to play the role accordingly, if we lack the ability to legally have a drink with friends. I feel that it is very degrading, not to mention embarrassing, to have to wear the black "X" on each hand, rather than the orange bracelet on my wrist. If the drinking age were lowered, there would still be young people that would abuse this privilege; however, with time there would be fewer abuses.
In a land built on individual freedom, it is strange that we are sent out in the world as adults, yet denied the opportunity to make such a simple choice. I think eighteen-year-olds should be granted this opportunity.