The Drinking Age





The Drinking Age

There has been continued debate surrounding the legal drinking age in the United States (U.S.). The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 encouraged many states to elevate the minimum age for purchase, possession or consumption of alcohol to 21 years (Saunders and Rey ch. 1). Proponents are campaigning for the legal drinking age to be lowered back to 18 years.

Proponents argue that the recognized age for adulthood in U.S. is 18 years. At this age, individual are entitled to the rights and responsibilities of adulthood such as voting, marriage, signing contracts, joining the military and consuming alcohol. They also argue that unsafe drinking activities by adults between the ages 18 and 20, will be reduced if they are allowed to consume alcohol in licensed locations. Adults at this age attend many social events and parties and might take such opportunities to drink alcohol and indulge in other unsafe activities.

Proponents argue that traffic accidents and fatalities attributed to driving under the influence of alcohol are common across all demographics and age groups. Despite the increase in the minimum legal drinking age, the rate of accidents and fatalities decreased less than that of countries whose drinking ages are 18 years. Those advocating for the reduction of the minimum drinking age are also pointing out that adults in this age group will use falsified identification documents (IDs) to purchase alcohol. Reducing the drinking age will reduce the number of falsified IDs circulating in the country and in turn improve national security. Furthermore, a reduced drinking age will improve the country’s economy through increased sales by licensed restaurants and bars.

Conversely, opponents have differing views relating to reduction of the minimum legal drinking age. They argue that it is medically and ethically irresponsible because it would increase the number of accidents, fatalities and other social evils. According to Myers and Isralowitz, the increase in minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 reduced the number accidents and fatalities by 13% and saved 27,052 lives between 1975 and 2008 (156). In addition, opponents argue that youths will engage in illegal activities, such as theft, to get money to procure alcohol.

Furthermore, reducing the minimum drinking age in the US will give underage teenagers easier access to alcohol. Opponents argue that currently, youths between 21 and 25 years purchase alcohol for their underage friends. This problem will trick down to teenagers under the age of 18 if the drinking age is reduced. They also argue that youths older than 21 years are more responsible compared to their younger counterparts. By reducing the drinking age, youths between 18 and 21 years will engage in dangerous activities such as street racing while under the influence of alcohol. Because of the threats posed by drinking alcohol, some opponents have suggested that the minimum drinking age should be raised from the current 21 years.

Despite the counter arguments raised by opponents, the drinking age should be reduced to 18 years. Any person beyond 18 years should be allowed to make their own decisions. Minimum drinking age laws are ineffective because youths are processing false IDs and attending frequent parties where they have access to alcohol. Since anybody above 18 years can be prosecuted as an adult, law enforcers should arrest and charge those who engage in illegal activities.


Work Cited:

Myers, Peter L, and Richard Isralowitz. Alcohol. Santa Barbara, Calif: Greenwood, 2011. Print.

Saunders, John, and Joseph Rey. Young People and Alcohol: Impact, Policy, Prevention, Treatment. West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2011. Print.

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