Changing the Minimum Legal Drinking Age in the United States
Over the past twenty years the minimum legal drinking age has been twenty-one in all US states, but that has not stopped citizens of the United Sates from attempting to lower the age. Following the end of prohibition in the United Sates during the Great Depression, all states agreed on a set of twenty-one to be the legal drinking age. For almost forty years there was no change in the drinking age until a decrease in the age for voting occurred. This led to the gradual decrease of the minimum legal drinking age to somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty among twenty-one states. Recent data collected by Henry Wechsler and Toben F. Nelson, both of which obtain either a PhD/ScD, show that over many efforts from legislation have been presented with bills that argue to lower the minimum age, but none have been passed (986). This subject has and always will be a well discussed issue among Americans, youth, and adults until they are satisfied with the outcome. Legislation should lower the minimum legal drinking age to eighteen in the United States due to the fact that it should be consistent with all other legal rights that one acquires at age eighteen.
As supporters of lowering the minimum legal drinking age argue that the age of drinking should be persistent with other legal rights such as voting, buying tobacco products, and serving their country. Statistics say the youth of today have had their first taste of alcohol by the time they are twenty-one, so that can only mean that they have participated in underage drinking (Barnett 8). This is considered breaking the law and one would go to jail if reported or if discovered by authorities unless there was an exception. That brings me to the amount of exceptions to the minimum legal drinking age in the United States. Over eight different exceptions are active in the States this year that excuse the act of underage drinking such as religious purposes, medical purposes, educational purposes, and with parental consent (40 States 468). These exceptions let anyone under parental consent or on private property legally drink without questioning them. Other people may see these exceptions as a sufficient way to only let minors drink under the careful eye of adults, but these adults that are supposed to be carefully watching these minors could easily slip up. I believe that the exceptions of minors drinking on private property with or without parental consent should not be excused. Does drinking at home mean you are not able to climb into a car and drive under the influence? These exceptions also lead to the thought of the Zero Tolerance Law not being enforced vigorously which leads to teenagers taking the Law as a joke.
Many people that oppose the lowering of the minimum legal drinking age do not realize the effectiveness of the age being lowered to eighteen. These viewers see the youth as forever irresponsible and should not be trusted with anything. If the youth was taught to drink in moderation and not binge drink, changing the minimum legal drinking age would not be so risky. Barnett, a professor at Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, suggests that if the youth is aware of the risks of alcohol they may drink with more caution (8). Prohibiting teens from drinking in public location such as bars, restaurants, and clubs has forced them to drink in unsupervised places. Fraternity/sorority houses, friend’s houses, and other secret locations are places that teens turn to to be able to drink without getting in trouble. If the drinking age was lowered then teens would be allowed to drink in healthy and supervised environments that in turn teach them to be cautious of the amount of alcohol obtained.
When the age eighteen comes along it is assumed to be the year of adulthood which means taking on many responsibilities such as the right to vote, getting married, and joining the military....
Cited: Barnett, Nancy P. “The Minimum Drinking Age Debate.” Date: The Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory & Application 27.11 (2008): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. Print.
Paschall, Mallie J., Joel W. Grude, and Kypros Kypri. “Alcohol Control Policies And Alcohol Consumption By Youth: A Multi-National Study.” Addiction 104.11 (2009): 1844-1855. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. Print.
ProCon.org. "40 States That Allow Underage (under 21) Alcohol Consumption." DrinkingAge.ProCon.org. ProCon.org, 3 Aug. 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.
Saylor, Drew K. “Heavy Drinking On College Campuses: No Reason To Change Minimum Legal Drinking Age of 21.” Journal of American College Health 59.4 (2011): 330-333. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov 2012. Print.
Wechsler, Henry, and Toben F. Nelson. “Will Increasing Alcohol Availablity By Lowering The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Decrease Drinking And Related Consequences Among Youths?” American Journal of Public Health 100.6 (2010): 986-992. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov 2012. Print.
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