Minimumlegal drinking age should be lowered
Theminimum legal drinking age has been a contentious social and legalissue in the United States. In all the states, the minimum legaldrinking age has been set at 21 years. There are some exceptionswhere younger individuals are allowed to drink in private residencesunder the supervision of an adult or due to medical necessity. Whilethere are valid arguments in favor of a higher minimum drinking age,the rationale behind the legal drinking age of 21 years has beenchallenged (Maisto,423).Proponents of a lower minimum legal drinking age have argued that thelaw in not effective in dealing with risky drinking behaviors amongteenagers and denying an 18 years old the permission to buy or drinkalcohol does not make sense. On the other hand, those who support ahigher legal drinking age have argued that younger individuals arenot experienced enough to handle the effects of alcohol. As a result,a higher minimum legal drinking age reduces risky behaviors such asdriving under the influence of alcohol (Miron& Elina, 317).This paper argues that the minimum legal drinking age should belowered to 18 years.
Thelegal debate over the minimum legal drinking age can be traced backto the 1930s when states were allowed to set their own minimum legaldrinking age. Some states had adopted different minimum legaldrinking age for men and women, but these laws were overruled by aSupreme Court ruling Craig V. Boren case in 1976. The court ruledthat the lower minimum drinking age in women violated the 14thamendment of the United States constitution. The 26th amendment ofthe constitution resulted in a new argument against the rationale ofthe 21 years minimum legal drinking age. The amendment lowered thevoting age from 21 years to 18 years. The rationale of lowering thevoting age resulted into lowering of minimum drinking age in somestates (Miron& Elina, 317).However, in the 1970s, there were increased incidences of caraccidents associated with driving under the influence of alcoholamong the youths. Due to intense lobbying, the congress passed theMinimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. This law did not require the statesto set the minimum legal drinking age at 21 but stipulated thatstates with lower minimum wage would not receive federaltransportation fund for the improvement of road infrastructures. As aresult, states with lower minimum drinking age increase it to 21years (Fell,1).Almost of the states have exceptions for circumstances under whichindividuals below the age of 21 can be allowed to take alcohol. Thefact that the law recognizes the age of 18 years as the age ofmajority where an individual is awarded responsibilities and rightsof an adult, the rationale of the minimum drinking age of 21 yearshas been criticized (Miron& Elina, 317).
Whyminimum legal drinking age should be lowered from 21 years to 18years
Themain argument that has favored a lower minimum legal drinking age hasbeen based on the fact that the age of 18 years is considered to bethe legal age of majority and adulthood in the United States. Adultshave the ability to make correct decisions based on their judgment.This is why the law allows people, who have attained the majority ageto join the military, enter into a contract, get marriage, vote or beprosecuted. This means that they have the ability to make decisionsrelated to consumption of alcohol. The current minimum legal drinkingage has not been effective in controlling irresponsible and riskydrinking behaviors among youths. In a majority of the states, youthsbetween the age of 18 and 20 years are allowed to consume alcohol inprivate residents or under the supervision. Additionally, youths havedevices ways if circumventing the law to illegally buy alcohol (Miron& Elina, 317).As a result of the legal restriction these youths are likely toengage in irresponsible and risky behaviors such as binge drinking,driving under the influence of alcohol, irresponsible sexualbehaviors, and violence. Irrespective of the minimum legal drinkingage, irresponsible drinking habits are common among new legaldrinkers, suggesting that the problem is delayed rather than solved(Miller,76).
Onthe other hand, opponents of a lower minimum legal drinking age haveargued that 18 years old are not responsible or experienced enough tomake correct decisions regarding alcohol consumption. More riskybehaviors associated with alcohol consumptions are observed amongyounger drinkers. This explains why more road accidents andfatalities associated with driving under the influence of alcohol arecommon among the youths. Generally, the law reduces the number ofyoung drinkers in the society (Hanson, 231). However, this rationalehas been challenged based on the fact that the law recognizes 18years old individuals as adults.
Thedebate over the minimum legal drinking age has been in the Americansociety for many decades. Currently, states have set the minimumdrinking age at 21 years. However, the law recognizes 18 years as theage of majority. The rationale of the minimum legal drinking age hasbeen challenged because it does not effectively deal withirresponsible drinking among youths. Therefore, the minimum legal ageshould be lower to 18 years.
Fell,J. C. "WHY 21? Addressing Underage Drinking." MADD.Mothers Against Drunk Driving.(2014).
Hanson,G. Drugsand society. Burlington,MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. (2015).
Maisto,S. DrugUse and Abuse.Cengage Learning, ISBN 1305177592. (2014).
Miron,J. A. & Elina, T. Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?EconomicInquiry47(2) (2009): 317-36.
Milleret al. Binge Drinking and Associated Health Risk Behaviors among HighSchool Students. Pediatrics.119(1) (2007):76-85.