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Lowering the Drinking Age

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Lowering the Drinking Age Adulthood and responsibility begins at the age of eighteen, not twenty-one. In 1984, a law was passed prohibiting the consumption of alcohol to those individuals under the age of twenty-one. The argument and support behind this law was based solely on safety issues; however, education and a higher awareness would virtually solve this supposed "problem." At the age of eighteen, a young man or woman gains all rights as an adult, yet he or she still can still not consume alcohol. Also, most people enter in the workplace or begin college at this time in their lives. Yet, the public population feels these individuals are not mature enough to drink; however, the real reason that the government and states do not want to lower the drinking age is due to the fact that they would lose millions of dollars in federal highway money. When a man or woman turns eighteen, he or she gains many rights, responsibilities, and freedoms. Most people move out of their parent 's homes and into their own apartment. Some begin work, and others begin their lives as college students; yet, these college students and employees are still not at the age to consume alcohol. In addition to attending college and maintaining jobs, eighteen year olds can purchase cigarettes and pay taxes. They also hold many legal responsibilities. An eighteen year old male can voluntarily enter into the military; and if the situation was to arise, he could also be drafted. Also, these eighteen year olds, that the public argues to be too immature to drink alcohol, are tried as adults in a court of law, can be summoned for jury duty, and also hold the responsibility of voting for our elections. After high school, many graduates enter into college; here, they experience many new responsibilities and freedoms, yet none of these include being able to drink alcohol. Despite laws against underage drinking, alcohol is still very prevalent on college campuses. According to John M. McCardell of Middlebury College, the legal drinking age of twenty-one has pushed teenagers to drink more in excess, or binge drink. Also, McCardell states, "Out latter-day prohibitionists have driven drinking behind closed doors and underground" (2)The current Middlebury president, Ronald D. Liebowitz, has a similar stance on this issue; also including that there is now more of a prevalence of binge drinking among teenagers. Liebowitz also states that due to the Drinking Act, students will travel off campus to participate in drinking, thus forcing them to drive intoxicated to come back to campus. Many advocates of the Drinking Act will argue that an eighteen year old is simply not as responsible and as a twenty-one year old; however, educating these younger individuals on the consumption of alcohol and its affects would prove better results than receiving a DUI the first time he or she is pulled over while intoxicated (Belluck 1). John McCardell has proposed a non-profit organization called Choose Responsibility. Choose Responsibility helps those eighteen to twenty year olds learn to make wise decisions with alcohol and to determine what place it has in their own lives. There are multiple reasons for why the drinking age should be lowered, yet many are still advocates of the Drinking Act. One of the strongest factors that was used to push the Drinking Act was the involvement of alcohol in teen related accidents and fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has produced numerous statistics supporting their case for the minimum legal drinking age of twenty-one; however, their statistics merely show the number of fatalities and accidents decreasing. Consequently, the only thing being taken into account are the numbers; there are multiple other factors to be considered. Over the years, as the number of accidents have decreased, the education on drinking and driving has increased, along with the increased use of seatbelts, airbags, and construction of safer driving vehicles. Another factor that must be considered as to why the minimum legal drinking age was set to begin with all comes down to funding. In the mid 1980s, the federal government gave the states a choice: establish your own drinking age or raise the drinking age to twenty-one. Though this sounds like a fair proposal, the issue of federal highway money was a huge factor. After the bill went into affect, the states had two years to raise the legal drinking age. Those states that chose to comply with the Drinking Act and made their legal drinking age twenty-one would continue receiving their federal money. After the first two years, however, those that chose not to raise the drinking age would lose five percent of their federal money. Furthermore, after the third year, the federal government would reduce the federal highway money by ten percent. Although, the states could receive reimbursement for the money lost if they would agree to raise their drinking age (Tolchin 2). The United States is the only country in the world to have a minimum legal drinking age of twenty-one (Kittleson 170). It seems ridiculous that every other country in the world feels their eighteen, nineteen, and twenty year olds are responsible enough to handle the consumption of alcohol, yet America, which is supposed to be the most cultured and knowledgeable country in the world does not think so. If a man or woman can make the vote to help decide our next president or enlist in our country 's military, he or she is responsible enough to consume alcohol. These same individuals that are voting and serving in the military are also entering into the workplace or attending college. They are supporting themselves on a day-to-day basis, with most of them living on their own; yet, after work or a long day or classes they can not sit down and enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer. The issue of lowering the drinking age to eighteen is not really about maturity or responsibility, the case simply lies in the fact that states do not want to lose their federal highway money. The answer to the problem of alcohol related crashes is education, not restricting those individuals from consuming the beverage. By not lowering the drinking age to eighteen, the federal and state governments are presenting alcohol as an "enticing forbidden fruit," as Mr. Ruth Engs so perfectly puts it (Kittleson 170).

Works Cited
Belluck, Pam. "Vermont Considers Lowering Drinking Age to 18." New York Times 13 April 2005, late ed., sec. national desk: 1+
Kittleson, Mark J., and Barry Youngerman. The Truth About Alcohol. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005.
McCardell, John M. "What Your College President Didn 't Tell You." New York Times 13 September 2004
Scrivo, Karen Lee. "Drinking on Campus." CQ Researcher 8.11 (1998): 241-264. CQ Researcher Online. CQ Press. Cleveland State Library, Cleveland, TN. 27 Nov. 2007 <http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1998032000>.
Tolchin, Martin. "Senate Votes Bill Aimed at Forcing Drinking Age of 21: Would Curb Road Funds Measure Would Also Reward States That Toughen Law on Driving While Drunk." New York Times 27 June 1984, A1.

Cited: Belluck, Pam. "Vermont Considers Lowering Drinking Age to 18." New York Times 13 April 2005, late ed., sec. national desk: 1+ Kittleson, Mark J., and Barry Youngerman. The Truth About Alcohol. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005. McCardell, John M. "What Your College President Didn 't Tell You." New York Times 13 September 2004 Scrivo, Karen Lee. "Drinking on Campus." CQ Researcher 8.11 (1998): 241-264. CQ Researcher Online. CQ Press. Cleveland State Library, Cleveland, TN. 27 Nov. 2007 <http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre1998032000>. Tolchin, Martin. "Senate Votes Bill Aimed at Forcing Drinking Age of 21: Would Curb Road Funds Measure Would Also Reward States That Toughen Law on Driving While Drunk." New York Times 27 June 1984, A1.

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