Legal Drinking Age, 18 or 21?
People have always wanted what they cannot have. Starting in 1984, this is the attitude most lawmakers in America have taken with respect to underage drinking, since it was the time when many states changed their drinking age from eighteen to twenty-one. Lawmakers thought that if you raised the drinking age, people could drink more responsibly, because as you grow older, your brain matures and with maturity comes responsibility. Although this law, passed not even twenty years ago, was made for the safety of young adults, people now are arguing to have the law returned to the age of eighteen. Many college students, professors and teachers have a lot to say about this topic. From John McCardell, former head of Middlebury College, to the Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Association, people have different views on the responsibility that young adults take when it comes to alcohol. Some people, who view that you should be able to drink when you are a legal adult, collect statistics about car accidents, deaths related to alcohol consumption, and binge drinking. Others who oppose this change in age collect similar data but there is a twist on the information that they receive.
When making decisions about laws, people have to consider all possible situations. Since not only lawmakers have involvement in this issue, they have to think about everyone who will be affected, whether it is people from the age of twenty-one or older or eighteen or older. In changing the minimum legal drinking age to eighteen, the lawmakers would be granting adults with the ideal of justice. Since they are adults, they would be given equal consideration and be treated purely as adults. Also, having faith in these young adults grants them with responsibility, forcing them to grow up more quickly while still in their late teenage years. By giving them responsibility, you have to consider the obligation of non-malficience, which is avoiding doing injury to others. If a young adult got into a car accident while under the influence of alcohol, it would be that person’s fault along with all of the alcohol they legally consumed. While deciding whether to lower the minimum legal drinking age, you have to take into account that you do not have control over people. Instilling faith in our youth, we have to trust that they will make smart decisions. John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College, argues that if the MLDA was lowered to eighteen, that eighteen to twenty years olds could only drink if they completed forty-two hours of instruction of the history, chemistry, psychology and sociology of alcohol. This class would also teach the dangers of alcohol and what risks there are if someone drank an exceedingly high amount of alcohol. If a person eighteen or older took this class, they would earn a special license that would allow them to purchase and consume alcohol. Fighting against McCardell, the Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Association says that “the sooner youth drink, the more likely they are to become alcohol dependent and to drive drunk” One way to control this would be to have this program also include sitting in on multiple Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. When deciding, lawmakers have to think about the ideals of maturity, potential, responsibility, fairness and prudence. Abigail Baird, Assistant Professor of Physiological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth College, studied nineteen brains of eighteen-year-old college students. These students moved 100 miles to go to college and lived without their families. The control to this study was a group of seventeen twenty-five year olds. Professor Baird came to the conclusion that the twenty-five year old brain was more mature, especially in the regions of the brain known to integrate emotion and cognition, the areas that take information from our current body state and apply it for use in navigating the world. Maturity can range though. It is proven that brains mature at...
Bibliography: WSJ. College Presidents Stand Up for Common Sense? I’ll Drink to That. [Online] Friday, August 28, 2008. http://onlline.wsj.com/article/SB121996586419781419.html?mod=taste_primary_hs
Dartmouth News. Brain Changes Significantly After Age 18, says Dartmouth Research. [Online] February 6, 2006. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~news/releases/2006/02/06.html
Wikipedia. Ignition Interlock Device. [Online] January 19, 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ignition_interlock_device
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