Should the drinking age be lowered?

September 16, 2014 — by Apoorv Kwatra and Neehar Thumaty

Reporters argue that the legal drinking age in the United States should be lowered.

At age 18, Americans legally become adults and are granted every privilege of adulthood. Except one.

Eighteen-year-olds can vote, join the military and even buy guns. But they cannot even enjoy a glass of wine at family dinners until they’re 21, a relic of outdated ‘80s legislation that should not exist today.

A lower drinking age has been proven to be successful in a majority of developed countries. Countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have set the legal age to drink at 18 and are considered both economically and socially advanced.

Not only are these countries doing well overall, they are doing better than the U.S. in avoiding drinking-related issues such as DUIs and overdoses, despite the fact that the U.S. consumes less alcohol per person than those countries. This is because U.S. citizens often abuse alcohol when they are suddenly given the freedom to drink at 21 or earlier.

In 1982, President Reagan established the Presidential Commission Against Drunk Driving (PCDD), to control what was then considered a drunk driving epidemic.

Many critics argued that Reagan's increased drinking age of 21 infringed on citizens’ rights. He in turn said that it was a small price to pay because of how the law would lower drinking related deaths. Nonetheless, these days people receive much more education on the negative effects of abusive drinking than during the time the law was signed.

Young people in the U.S. tend to not drink as responsibly as individuals in countries with lower drinking ages. This is a result of people who actually obey the law being thrown into a heavy drinking environment at 21 without any guidance and often without any previous experience on drinking responsibly.

Some might argue that people might abuse drinking even if the legal age was 18. At 18, many teenagers are still home, or are preparing to go off to college. By 21, however, most people are on their own and do not have parental restrictions that prevent them from drinking dangerously.

Also, while drinking can be dangerous, smoking and joining the military, which are risky, are rights that 18-year-olds receive.

Additionally, voting is something that requires knowledge about politics, a complicated subject. If the government is stating that 18-year-olds are mature enough to cast informed and accurate votes that decide the future of the country, then they should also acknowledge that they are mature enough to drink responsibly.

There are very few benefits in keeping the legal drinking age at 21. This simply increases the chance of people abusing alcohol, leading to people becoming alcoholics and binge drinking.

Eighteen-year-olds are adults. They are tried as adults and receive adult rights, such as voting, smoking, and living on their own. Drinking should be one too.

2 views this week