Lowering the Drinking Age to 18

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Currently in the United States, you must be at least 21 years of age in order to purchase or consume alcohol. The subjects of drugs and alcohol have been long-standing controversial issues that have sparked debates for many years in the U.S. Because of the obvious dangers and long-term damage alcohol has been proven to do on the body one must wonder why it is legal to drink or produce alcohol in the first place. In some ways, alcohol and drugs have the same kind of effects on the body and cause similar long-term damage, yet alcohol is legal and drugs are not. That however is a different debate altogether as I will be focusing more on the risks and dangers of alcohol and whether or not the laws in the U.S. are fair for those to purchase alcohol. It is my belief that the drinking laws in this country are not fair and need to be changed. While most will agree with me that the laws do need to be changed, the majority of people think they should be more stringent and restrictive. While I do feel that laws regarding drinking and driving need to be more restrictive, based on several factors, I will be arguing in favor of the drinking age being lowered from 21 years of age to 18 years of age. In this paper, I will be examining the history of legislation on alcohol in the U.S. and explain how the current drinking age of 21 was established. In fact, there was once a point in time when it was actually legal for an 18 year old to drink in the U.S. Also in this paper, I will be comparing the drinking age in the U.S. to the drinking age in other countries around the world. The rest of the world’s opinions, traditions and laws on alcohol vary in many ways, so it is important to describe how drinking is viewed globally. Generally speaking, there are much looser restrictions on drinking around the world that help make my case for lowering the drinking age here in the U.S. If a lower drinking age works in other parts of the world then it definitely would seem to make sense it could be successful here as well.

In the beginning of the 20th century there were no restrictions on the sale, purchase or consumption of alcohol but that all changed when the National Prohibition Act of 1920 was passed by Congress. It became the 18th amendment to the Constitution and prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes. In 1933, however, the 21st amendment was ratified thus nullifying the 18th amendment. It currently stands as the only amendment to completely cancel a previous amendment. It also gave each individual state the right to determine their own laws regarding alcohol. The laws regarding alcohol sale, distribution and transport remained in the hands of the states until the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed. It required all states to increase their states’ drinking age to 21 years of age. In order to ensure that the states abided by the act any state that did not abide faced a reduction in highway funds under the Federal Highway Aid Act. Since no state could afford to give up any portion of their much needed highway funding, every state cooperated with the act and thus the drinking age has remained at 21 years of age ever since (Hanson). According to EH.Net Encyclopedia, the main reasons for the prohibition of alcohol were the following: Historical accounts cite a range of factors as finally tipping sentiment in favor of national prohibition. One was the huge number of immigrants during the first decade and a half of the 20th century, since popular wisdom held that immigrants were heavy drinkers. A second factor was increasing urbanization, which made the presence of the hard drinking, saloon frequenting, urban poor more visible. U.S. involvement in World War I may also have played a significant role, by legitimizing the view that turning...
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