Is It Time to Lower the Drinking Age?
Over 5000 deaths occur from alcohol-related actions each year (McCardell). Binge drinking, a major issue among underage drinkers, is defined as having at least 5 drinks on one occasion (Kiesbye 21). The US is one of just four countries with an age requirement of 21. Only Islamic countries have more restrictive drinking laws. (Kiesbye 26). The minimum age of 21 passed Congress in 1984 (Balko). Vermont fought the law concerning the minimum age all the way to Supreme Court, but they lost the case (Balko). At age 18, a person may do many adult things. They can fight and die for their country, vote, get married, and sign legal contracts. Why can’t -¬¬¬¬¬¬they drink (Kiesbye 39)? The age with the highest risk for fatality from alcohol-related accidents shows exposure away from the home may not be safest. Is it time to lower the legal drinking age so young adults can have exposure legally at home in a safer environment? (Balko)
Admittedly, lowering the drinking age has had benefits on a person’s health and has decreased suicide rates (“Legal Drinking”). For example, alcohol can have negative consequences by causing the drinker to suffer declines in cognitive abilities within the next few years (“Legal Drinking”). Additionally, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) claims that the legal drinking age being 21, as opposed to 18, has saved more than 21,000 lives (Kiesbye 26). Just as well, Europe is oftentimes used as a model for more lenient drinking laws. However, evidence does show that youth in Europe have a higher likelihood of problems due to alcohol (“Legal Drinking”). To summarize, teenagers are more at risk to have brain damage later in life and other health related issues when introduced to alcohol at a young age (“Legal Drinking”). Indeed, lowering the drinking age may have adverse effects on one’s health. However, with other countries having more positive outcomes due to the lower drinking ages, changing times, possible solutions to the problem available, and the effects the law has on teenagers and college students, maybe it is time to reconsider the legal drinking age of 21.
Initially, the drinking age should be lowered because the US has a higher rate of dangerous intoxications for underage drinkers compared to that of countries with lower drinking ages (Responsibility). A study in 2003 showed that countries with lower minimum drinking ages showed a less-likelihood for 15-16 year old teens to be intoxicated compared with those in the US (Roan). Also based on further research, countries having lower drinking ages also show that students perform better on standardized tests than those in the US, showing the immediate effects of alcohol on the brain may not be to the extend people say (Balko). In summation, European countries with lower drinking ages have fewer problems than America concerning alcohol-related problems (Responsibility). Furthermore, fatalities as a result of drunk driving have decreased from 30 years ago, but they have decreased in Canada too, where the legal drinking age is 18 or 19 (Chafetz). To illustrate, changing times has been a major contribution to the decrease in deaths from drunk driving. For example, the term “designated driver” is now part of our regular vocabulary (McCardell). Seat belt usage reduces the odds of death for front seat passengers in car accidents by 45%. The percentage of people that use a seatbelt has increased from 14% to 80% from 1984 to 2004 (Kiesbye 27). In addition, a state can lose 10% of its federal highway funds by lowering the drinking age. This makes the changing of the legal drinking age very unlikely anytime soon as long as highway funds and the legal drinking age are linked (Chafetz.) Just as well, the period after the Post World War II until 1964 shows the US had a large population rise. After his period, the population shrank. There were less young drivers, so there were even less high-risk drivers. The amount of...
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