Opinion Piece Essay, So Either Yes Or No (Don't Argue Both Sides)
Should the U.S. lower the legal drinking age to 18?
In 1971, the Congress lowered the voting eligibility from age 21 to 18. Many states responded to this law by lowering the legal drinking age as well. The rationale for lowering the minimum age limit was that if Americans of age 18 could be allowed to choose their political leaders for public offices, be recruited in Army for fighting in Vietnam and serve on jury, they could also order and drink beer. Consequently, about half of the U.S. states lowered the legal minimum drinking age to 18. However, states began to reverse this course when research showed an increase in traffic accidents due to drunken driving death of youngsters above 18. In response to this surge in vehicular accidents, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in 1980. It lobbied the Congress and soon gained nationwide clout CITATION Gri15 \l 1033 (Griggs). Thus in 1984, Congress began enforcing the minimum drinking age of 21 by withholding funds from the federal highway in all the states with minimum age lower than 21. Although, the minimum age in all the 50 states has remained 21 since 1995, now it is time to once again lower it to 18. The United States is among the very few countries in the world that have instituted such a high drinking age. Lowering it to 18 will not only discourage unsafe binge-drinking without any supervision but also help combat on-campus sexual assaults and minimize fake ID cases. Those who oppose the lowering of minimum age point to the danger of increased drunken driving deaths. However, those deaths can be and are already being avoided by installing devices on cars that prevent the engine from starting if there is an increased concentration of alcohol in the breath. Times have changed.
Supporting a lowered minimum age is not tantamount to advocate for increased drunkenness of kids. Instead, it is to favor a cultural model, already existing in several countries including Italy or France, where elders may themselves serve wine in controlled quantities to their children under their own supervision. The United States is one of the seven countries in the world with a minimum drinking age as high as 21. Many countries including Denmark, Belgium, and Germany have set the minimum age at 16. Most of the developed world including the Western democracies have set age 18 for citizens to vote for their favorite leaders, participate in wars and drink alcohol.
This not only allows parents the opportunity to educate their kids about drinking and alcohol but also reduces the taboo allure of drinking, thereby reducing the chances of binge drinking that goes without parental supervision. According to Dwight B. Heath, an anthropologist, those people who start drinking younger under parental supervision as safer than those who indulge in binge drinking without any supervision. Banning drinking until age 21 promotes binge drinking because it promotes “forbidden fruit syndrome” CITATION Gri15 \l 1033 (Griggs). A study conducted by the University of Indiana at 56 colleges revealed that immediately after 1984, the number of underage students involved in drinking was significantly greater than those of legal age. The college authorities find themselves in an impossible position. More than 70% students violate the minimum age law before joining the college and therefore the college authorities find it futile CITATION Gri15 \l 1033 (Griggs).
The problem with binge drinking along and overdose of drugs is that when a person is impaired, they do things which they would not otherwise do. Both of them result in sexual assaults, behavior with racist or sexist undertones, and cybercrimes. Moreover, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose itself causes more deaths than vehicles crashes. What is disturbing is that between 1993 and 2005, the number of college students using drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin has increased by 450 percent CITATION Mar \l 1033 (Cary). The question is why this increase has been observed among college students only? According to former President Obama, every girl in five is sexually assaulted on college campuses. This makes campuses with crime rates higher than the most violent cities of the U.S. These crimes are directly related to the 21-year minimum age law that promotes binge drinking and drug abuse among teens.
Those who oppose lowering the drinking age argue that keeping minimum drinking age at 21 saves lives by reducing the number of drunken driving deaths. They point to the study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, according to which the age 21 laws saves more than 900 lives annually CITATION Gho14 \l 1033 (Gholipour). However, the reason for the reduction in drunken driving death is the better enforcement of mechanisms that prevent drivers from driving while drunk. In all the 50 states, a driver with alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher in blood is a criminal. And in 42 states, the license of the offender is suspended on the first offense without first warning. All states require the installation of devices that prevent the engine from starting CITATION Mar \l 1033 (Cary) if it detects higher concentration of alcohol in the breath. Hence, drunken driving can be effectively prevented with these measures even when the minimum drinking age is reduced to 18.
States should be allowed to set their own limits on drinking. It should be made compulsory for the colleges to educate students on drinking responsibly. American teens should be made eligible to get an alcohol permit at the age of 18- when they have graduated from high school and also successfully completed an educational course on alcohol. Only those kids with permits should be allowed to order wine, beer or liquor. The permit will also prevent the need to make fake IDs. The permit may be revoked by the state if a person is convicted with offenses related to alcohol CITATION Gla15 \l 1033 (Glaser). States should enforce the measures to prevent drunken driving by ensuring that all vehicles have the alcohol-detection devices installed on them.
BIBLIOGRAPHY Cary, Mary Kate. Time to Lower the Drinking Age. 2014. <https://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2014/05/07/lower-the-us-drinking-age-to-reduce-binge-drinking-and-sexual-assault>.
Gholipour, Bahar. Keeping Legal Drinking Age At 21 Saves 900 Lives Yearly: Study. 2014. <https://www.huffpost.com/entry/legal-drinking-age-21-saves-lives_n_4847191>.
Glaser, Gabrielle. Return the Drinking Age to 18, and Enforce It. 2015. <https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/02/10/you-must-be-21-to-drink/return-the-drinking-age-to-18-and-enforce-it>.
Griggs, Brandon. Should the U.S. lower its drinking age? 2015. <https://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/16/us/legal-drinking-age/index.html>.
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