Lower the Drinking Age to 18

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Dakota Vaughn
Mrs. Kachurak
Eng. 102-001
2-4-2013

Lower the Drinking Age: End America’s Addiction

Although alcohol has been around for quite some time, it has recently begun to pose a problem in the past few decades, specifically in America. Terrible alcohol related incidences occur every day in America and can be so easily avoided if the proper laws and information are applied. Alcohol consumption, especially in the case of underage drinking, is one of the most crippling problems in the United States. Not only does it give the U.S. a bad image, but it can forever ruin lives. The drinking age, with proper attention and regulations, should be lowered to eighteen because it would drastically decrease the number of alcohol related issues in America.

Countries, such as those in Europe, have far different laws pertaining to alcohol consumption than those of America. Some of these countries’ minimum legal drinking ages, or MLDAs, are as low as sixteen. Yet even then, there are countries in the same area who will allow anyone who is taller than the bar counter to enter the tavern and purchase drinks. Although these laws may seem ridiculous to many Americans, especially parents with teenage children, they seem to be doing fairly well. European teenagers’ familiarity with alcohol use, dictated by a culture of ‘Moderate, supervised drinking within families’ and lower legal drinking ages, is an increasingly attractive model for American parents (Colville “Underage”). If European teenagers are doing just fine, then why are American teenagers allegedly ruining futures and losing lives?

America’s current MLDA is twenty one years of age and has majorly been that way since the mid 1900’s. The current drinking age in the United States is higher than in Canada, Mexico, and most western European countries whose drinking ages are primarily 18. As for the specifics of the MLDA, provided by Total DUI, anyone under the age of twenty one who is found with blood alcohol content higher than .01% is technically breaking the law. As already mentioned, these laws have been in place for over half a century; however, there have been slight, brief changes in the past. Minton informs that Louisiana briefly lowered its age limit back to 18 in 1996, after the state Supreme Court ruled that the 21 limit was a form of discrimination, but the court reversed that decision a few months later. Interestingly enough, it is surprising that the Supreme Court could make such a crucial decision, and then shortly after, recall a very valid point. Discrimination was undeniably the issue, and should not have been reversed, let alone even reconsidered.

The MLDA in America is clearly a failing system; the number one question being why. Ashton, from BBC News, may be able to help answer that. He said, “Teenagers are drinking in risky circumstance. They go to parks, open spaces, or out on the street. They get drunk and have unprotected sex.” This is a very valid point, and is one of the main reasons the MLDA is not working. Children are brought up with the understanding that alcohol is bad, and in a sense, taboo-like. While French or Italian children learn to think of alcohol as part of a meal, American teens learn to drink in the unmonitored environment of a basement or the backwoods with their friends. If American parents did as most French or Italian parents do and introduced alcohol to their teenage children as a family/social practice, then alcohol related issues would surely decrease.

Alcohol related statistics such as addictions and fatalities in European countries are astoundingly low when considering how young their MLDAs are. In Germany, for example, where the drinking age is sixteen, alcohol related fatalities decreased by 57 percent between 1975 and 1990 (Minton). Another interesting point brought up by Colville “Binge Drinking” is how the Washington post observed in 2004 that Europe has relatively few incidents of teens’ driving drunk despite low...
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