Should the Legal Drinking Age be Lowered?
Should the Legal Drinking Age be Lowered?
In the United States, the Minimum Legal Drinking Age laws (MDLA) dictate that the legal drinking age is 21. All 50 states have set their minimum drinking age to 21 years, although exceptions tend to apply from state to state. Exceptions to MDLA law include medical necessity, adult supervision, and basic home consumption. Proponents argue that the minimum drinking age should be lowered from 21 years, while opponents insist that teenagers should not be allowed to take alcohol before age 21. In my viewpoint, the legal drinking age should be reduced from 21 years to 18 years because as is, this law does not prevent drinking but only pushes individuals to drink in less controlled environments. This essay discusses why reducing the legal drinking age is better than maintaining it at 21 years.
The first reason I support lowering the legal drinking age from 21 years is that it reduces the number of drunken driving-related traffic accidents and fatalities. According to research, many countries with a minimum legal drinking age of 18 registers fewer accidents caused by drunken driving compared to those with a legal drinking age of 21. Research shows that 31% of road traffic deaths in the United States have to do with alcohol (Saffer & Grossman, 2017). This is higher in numerous countries whose legal drinking age is below 21, including Germany (9%), France (29%), China (4%), Great Britain (16%), and Israel (3%). Worth noting, the legal drinking age varied across states before 1984 after the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Despite the United States raising the legal drinking age to 21 in 1984, its rates of fatalities and accidents reduced by less than that registered by European countries, whose minimum legal drinking age is less than 21.
At 18 One is an Adult
The second reason why I support lowering legal drinking age from 21 to 18 years is because everybody is an adult at the age of the 18. If 18 years marks adulthood, then why would adults be restricted from accessing alcohol? In my viewpoint, adults have the mandate to make informed decisions concerning alcohol consumption. They should not be restricted from accessing alcohol at 18 years because, after all they should be able responsible enough to drink responsibly and make informed decisions. Essentially, suppose 18 is when a person earns the right to vote, get married, serve as a juror, join the military, and get prosecuted as adults. In that case, there is no reason to prevent them from purchasing and accessing alcohol. All the aforementioned adult responsibilities involve putting their life at risk and so does alcohol consumption.
Decreased Unsafe Drinking
The third reason the legal drinking age should be reduced is that it helps reduce unsafe drinking activities among young adults. Letting up to 18-year-olds purchase and consume alcohol in environments that are regulated would help address irresponsible drinking. When these young adults drink under adult supervision, they are bound to drink responsibly, which translates into safe drinking. Come to think of it, when 18-year-olds are denied entry in clubs and bars and other licensed alcohol-taking locations, it only makes them result in secret drinking, which can be irresponsible. They end up resulting in drinking in unsupervised locations such as house parties or fraternity houses where they are more prone to binge drinking and irresponsible behavior.
Reducing Legal Drinking Age is Medically Irresponsible.
Opponents of reducing the legal drinking age to 18 years argue that doing would be irresponsible. Research shows that alcohol consumption interferes with the development of the brain in young adults. It affects the frontal lobes that are responsible for functions such as organization, emotional regulation, and planning. When alcohol tampers with early brain development, there is a possibility of causing more severe chronic problems, including memory loss, vulnerability to addiction, reduced decision-making ability, dangerous risk-taking behavior, violence, depression, and suicide (Nguyen‐Louie, Matt, Jacobus, Li, Cota, Castro, & Tapert, 2017). While this reasoning is justified, I still believe that reducing the legal drinking age is the right move because, after all, the reality is that laws do not make much of a difference. Even though the legal drinking age is 21, teenagers tend to access alcohol regardless. When it comes to medical responsibility, there should be education for young adults to sensitize them to drink responsibly to avoid adverse brain development issues.
In closing, the debate about whether the legal drinking age should be reduced has been going on for a while. While proponents support lowering the drinking age, opponents are not convinced that it would be a good move. Legal drinking age should be reduced from 21 to 18 years because at 18, a person is already an adult and it helps reduce unsafe drinking activities. Additionally, reducing the drinking age translates into reduced drunken driving-related accidents and fatalities. Parents should supervise their children and talk to them about responsible drinking if the legal drinking age is reduced.
Nguyen‐Louie, T. T., Matt, G. E., Jacobus, J., Li, I., Cota, C., Castro, N., & Tapert, S. F. (2017). Earlier alcohol use onset predicts poorer neuropsychological functioning in young adults. Alcoholism: clinical and experimental research, 41(12), 2082-2092.
Saffer, H., & Grossman, M. (2017). 13. Beer Taxes, the Legal Drinking Age, and Youth Motor Vehicle Fatalities. In Determinants of Health (pp. 509-533). Columbia University Press.