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Legal Drinking Age
Did you know that twenty one years of age is the highest required drinking age in the world? The vast majority of countries have a requirement of eighteen, while the United States still requires you to be twenty- one. “It's bad social policy and bad law” (John McCardell). The United States has the most underage drinking going on in the world.
Many say that eighteen is too young to allow the consumption of alcohol. Young adults at eighteen are not yet ready for the effects of alcohol and are not responsible enough to handle themselves. They use college parties are proof. Some under age drinkers get sick from over consumption. Some argue the idea that more people will be consuming alcohol if it is legal at the age of eighteen. Theoretically, a rise in drinking numbers also means a rise in cases of binge drinking. They say teens under the age of twenty-one don't have a sense of true responsibility, so they consume as much alcohol as they can in a short period of time because it is considered “cool” to get wasted. But the main counter argument to lowering the drinking age is the estimated 24,560 lives that have been saved by minimum drinking age laws since 1975 according to Students Against Drunk Driving. Their idea comes from the fact that 60 percent of all teen deaths in car accidents are alcohol-related.
It is understandable to point out that college parties are often made up of young adults between eighteen and twenty- one, since it happens every day on virtually every campus. “Because 18-year-olds—adults in most other senses —generally can't drink legally in bars and restaurants, they tend to drink in dorm rooms, on isolated fields and at unsupervised house parties, where adults can't watch them. And in those environments, the drinking can be dangerous—especially among young people who have no practical experience with alcohol yet years of exposure to a social and advertising culture that encourages drinking” (Kuhn). Binge drinking is a very common occurrence among young adults today since their drinking is illegal and they must consume what they have relatively quickly. When it comes to drunk driving, facts can not be argued. People die each day due to alcohol related motor accidents. But contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of these fatal car crashes are caused by people twenty- one years of age or older.
How can a person at the age of eighteen be considered an adult and still be denied the right to consume alcohol? From your eighteenth birthday on, you have the right to buy tobacco, vote, and even fight to defend our country in the Armed Forces. Each of these rights demonstrate responsibility. Tobacco is considered a drug and can be abused much like alcohol, yet society trusts young adults with this substance everyday and it is not a problem due to the responsibility taken in tobacco's use. Voting means having a say in how our country is run and ultimately, what happens in our world. Having the right to vote at the age of eighteen proves that our country trusts the judgment of young adults to point us in the right direction. Ultimately, if a young man or woman has chosen to join our armed forces and run the risk of laying down their life for our country, shouldn't they at least have the right to drink? At the age of eighteen, young adults in our country show they are responsible enough to drink.
Binge drinking is often the result of people not knowing their alcohol consumption limits, and in many instances exceeding them on accident. If drinking were legal at eighteen, teens would have a chance to drink while in the safety and comforts of their own homes. Therefore, allowing them to find out what their body can and can not tolerate in regards to alcohol consumption. It would then be legal for parents to supervise drinking in their own home and make sure people stay under control. Due to more supervision and the idea that you don't have to drink all the alcohol you have right away, binge drinking would not be as common among young adults eighteen to twenty- one. “Having to be twenty- one, has disenfranchised America's youth and promotes binge drinking” (Funkhouser).
In regards to drinking and driving, laws would be enforced prohibiting young adults ages eighteen to twenty- one from operating a vehicle if there is any alcohol in their system. If any person between those two ages gets pulled over while behind the wheel after drinking, their license would be taken until their twenty-first birthday; no questions asked. For example- a nineteen year old guy goes to his friend's house for a birthday party and has a couple beers. He decides to drive home, but is pulled over on his way due to not using his blinker during a turn. The stop may not have been alcohol related, but the officer smells beer on the young man's breath and gives him a breathalyzer. Due to alcohol being in his system while behind the wheel, the young man looses his license and will not receive it back until his twenty- first birthday. With these laws strictly enforced, drinkers between eighteen and twenty- one will be much more reluctant to drive, which in effect would lower the amount of drinking and driving accidents caused by young adults.
It is not necessary to continue pushing alcohol consumption underground for those between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one because according to Michael Lanahan, “The worst thing we can do is drive these kids underground.” Instead, we need to revise our drinking law here in America and allow all adults the right to drink.