An American teenager who is eighteen years old is allowed to do several things, such as vote, join the military, and get married; however, drinking is not allowed until he or she is twenty-one years old.
The officially permitted drinking age in the U.S. was raised from eighteen to twenty-one in 1988 due to the National Minimum Age Drinking Act that had been signed into law four years earlier by President Ronald Reagan.
The main reason was maturity; that is, at eighteen one is not mature enough to drink responsibly (Kiesbye, 2). However, I agree with the verdict of the group of university and college presidents that the drinking age should be lowered from twenty-one to eighteen.
Opponents of lowering the legal drinking age usually refer to the dangers of binge drinking. They say that the practice is increasing and that any person who is below eighteen is simply not responsible enough to have an alcoholic beverage.
This type of drinking most of the time occurs in the underground and hidden places where the teenagers cannot be discovered. However, although binge drinking is a problem in America, the root cause is the high drinking age that our lawmakers have instituted ignoring certain realities.
Let us face the reality: if a person wants to drink, he or she will definitely find a way to do that. And since legal adults (those over eighteen) are unable to get hold of alcohol themselves, they will inevitably go to hidden places and drink excessively without any supervision or guidance.
When the drinking age is lowered, teenagers can drink responsibly without having to hide themselves. Therefore, “the current limit ignores the reality of drinking during college years and drives it underground, making binge drinking more dangerous and students less likely to seek help in an emergency” (Gordon and Holland, para. 2).
I think it is of essence to question this law: why is it that the age of twenty-one is the “magical’ age that a person is considered as intelligent and mature enough to drink alcohol? Truly, some adults consume alcohol irresponsibly. On the other hand, some young people are able to drink responsibly.
At eighteen, Americans are regarded as adults. It may seem odd to allow those above eighteen years to marry, drive their own cars, and do other sorts of things, and yet to be prevented by the same law from taking a glass of wine in a cafe or even a glass of champagne at their own wedding party. I feel that it does not make sense to have a limit that is higher than the legally recognized age of maturity.
Young people look at alcoholic beverages as something exciting (Bishop, 19). They consider it an activity preserved for the adults; however, young people want to be adults As Soon As Possible. Therefore, as is the case in most institutions, they usually carry fake identity cards to drinking dens; thus, leading to more problems, or steal the drinks from their parents’ drink cupboard.
Maintaining the drinking age at twenty-one does not encourage responsible drinking. In addition, when the opportunity to take alcohol arises, “Let us compensate for the lost time” attitude crops in resulting in binge drinking, which leads to results that are even more disastrous.
By reducing the legal drinking age, it would inevitably water down some of the temptation to take alcohol since the young people often say that it is more fun when it is illegal.
And, more so, in most cases, young people tend to engage in illicit activities. Therefore, lowering the age will reduce this tendency. In reality, increasing the drinking age is even worse than not doing anything at all simply because most individuals would want to get drunk as a sign of rebellion to the authority. “Not much can be done to control student drinking.
Americans younger than 21 casually defy the law by secretly drinking. If the law was changed, the practice can take place in the open, where it could be better monitored and moderated” (Snelgrove, para. 22). I think that the obsession of wanting to consume alcohol would lose its appeal if drinking were not regarded as purely an adult thing.
As pointed out by the article, “At 18, is it time for a drink?” teen drinking is longstanding problem, which has affected the American society and the drinking age limit has not done enough to cut short.
The American society does not care to instruct the teenagers’ on limits or responsibilities; however, they apparently assume that the teenagers will know their limits and be responsible consumers of alcoholic beverages upon attaining the lawful “magical age” of twenty-one.
A number of developed countries in Europe, such as France, Belgium, and Italy, have established a legal minimum drinking age at sixteen years. It is interesting to note that in those countries one is allowed to drive at eighteen years of age.
If the American society can focus more on educating the youth on responsible drinking habits rather than restriction, then several problems can be prevented (Gordon and Holland, para.16). The youth in the U.S., unlike their counterparts in Europe, are not able to learn how to consume alcohol and other substances gradually, safely and with caution.
Even though the average daily consumption of alcohol in some European nations such as France and Spain is higher than in the United States, the percentage of alcoholism and irresponsible drinking is much lower due to education on safe drinking habits and enforcement of gradual drinking behavior.
Supporters of the legal drinking age often cite possible increase in car accidents as a reason to maintain the drinking age. However, they fail to realize that individuals of all ages get into car crashes, teenagers and adults, when they abuse alcohol.
Educating the public on the dangers of this vice can be more beneficial than simply giving restrictions. In most countries in Europe, teenagers are permitted to drive at eighteen years of age, and also to drink responsibly at the same age.
Therefore, they are able to learn early about the dangers of drinking alcohol and practice good drinking habits. I think that lowering the drinking age would be able to reduce the number of car crashes that are related to excessive consumption of alcohol.
Restrictions can be put to prevent the teenagers from drinking, but can they really be stopped? No one was there to stop the over ten million American teens aged twelve to twenty who have already drunk an alcoholic beverage at present. Out of this number, it is astonishing that about half of them are engaging in binge drinking.
To put more facts on the table, it is estimated that about eighty percent of students in grade nine through twelve will have tasted at least one drink of an alcoholic beverage in their lifetime and about fifty percent of these students have tasted at least one drink of alcohol in the last one month.
So, tell me, are restrictions stopping them from pursing their illicit courses? Abuse of alcohol among the teens is a real problem that we should not ignore the way we are doing now through unfair restrictions.
Since more and more teens are destroying their lives, I suggest that we try something different, something that can ultimately bear fruits since the high drinking age seems to be taking us nowhere. Therefore, I strongly believe that lowering the drinking age and then educating the teenagers on the dangers of alcohol consumption can reduce this problem.
We should all recognize that America has a huge problem with teen drinking. The only way to find a solution to this problem is by stopping to ignore it. “It’s time we look at the issue afresh and see whether there are better solutions than we currently have in place because, after all, we haven’t solved the problem” (Gordon and Holland, para. 8).
The American teenagers should get more education about the effects of alcohol, rather than giving them punishment. The legal drinking age should be restored to eighteen since the current age at twenty-one lacks any real basis. A lowered drinking age will bring us to reality and institute better ways of curbing the vice. Consequently, fewer problems would arise.
Bishop, Bruce. Effects of lowering the drinking age. Salem, Or. : Legislative Research, 1979. Print.
Gordon, Larry, and Holland, Gale. “At 18, is it time for a drink?” Los Angels Times. 8
Aug. 2008. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.
Kiesbye, Stefan. Should the legal drinking age be lowered? Detroit : Greenhaven Press, 2008. Print.
Snelgrove, Erin. “18 or 21? Drinking age debate heats up.” Yakima-herald. 2 Sept.
2008. Web. 7 Oct. 2010.