At What Age Should Drinking be Allowed?

by sydneyroche on April 14, 2016 - 9:27pm

All around the world, countries set a certain age limit in order to control the consumption of alcohol of younger people.  In the United States, the minimum limit drinking age (MLDA) is 21 years old and has been that way since 1984 when Congress passed the National Minimum Age Drinking Act. Recent disagreements on possibly lowering the MLDA in the U.S. was brought up by numerous college presidents throughout the country seeking it to be reduced to 18 years of age. (Giggs) One of them, John McCardell, who is president of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, finds it pointless that the government enforces a law that isn’t followed by 70 percent of students even before they attend college. (Giggs) In most cases, this is actually what happens. Kids under the age of 21 tend to drink, and even excessively drink, because doing something that is forbidden, at their age, is exciting. Not to mention that drinking alcohol for adults is glorified through marketing, which sets a greater incentive for young people to drink. “More than 90% of the alcohol consumed by those under age 21 is consumed by binge drinkers (defined as 5 or more drinks per occasion for boys; 4 or more drinks per occasion for girls).” (“Age 21”.) Although imposing the MLDA at age 21, in order to eliminate underage drinking, hasn’t been effective since it simply drove it underground, without supervision and that’s when it gets dangerous. (CBS) The government set the bar high, compared to other countries, mainly to prevent underage drunk driving and possible deaths. However, it has been observed that in most cases involving the consumption of alcohol, deaths for young people decreased when the MLDA was 21, and deaths increased when it was lowered. (Giggs). “Proponents of the higher drinking age says it reduces traffic fatalities and alcohol-related accidents while keeping booze out of the hands of teens, whose brains are still developing.” (Giggs) While the majority of Americans are against lowering the minimum drinking age, many do not understand why we wouldn’t trust 18- to 20-year olds with alcohol when, at that age, they’re legally allowed to perform and act upon or for social engagements such as the right to vote, to get married, to buy guns, and join the military. The question law enforcers should be asking themselves is whether the problem is caused by the age of these young individuals or by them being uninformed of the effects of alcohol abuse? If in fact the MLDA is lowered, the problem regarding underage drinking will remain for those under the age of this newly set limit.

Works Cited

“Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 18, March, 2016. Web. 14, April, 2016. < >

CBS News. “The Debate on Lowering the Drinking Age.” CBS News. CBS News 60 Minutes, 19, February, 2016. Web. 14, April, 2016. < >


Brandon Giggs. “Should the U.S. Lower Its Drinking Age?.” CNN. CNN, 4, January, 2015. Web. 14, April, 2016. < >


You have some good points, even though there’s a certain drinking age there’s no way to prevent people (especially teenagers from consuming alcohol). To be honest I am not sure of what the legal drinking age should be? Nevertheless, I think that we should take into consideration that the brain is still developing until the mid 20’s so wouldn’t be better at 24 years old? In addition people tend to have a lot responsibility after a certain age such as driving, voting, being an adult. So maybe if the system considers that a young adult is ready to face all these responsibilities, maybe he’s ready to consume alcohol? Whatever in the measure taken, I believe that the most important thing to do is to do prevention so people are aware of the risk they take when they start consuming alcohol. After everyone is different so we can’t expect a perfect drinking age.

For sure arguments from both spectrums, either drinking age to be legal at 18 years of age or 21 years of age, are strong, however, I believe that the legal drinking age should be at the start of 18 years of age mainly due to all the other responsibilities that come with 18 years old. Indeed, being 18 years old is the point were a teenager graduates to becoming an adult. New responsibilities such as social engagements, be it being able to vote or get married, must be taken on by someone turning 18, thus, if a young adult must face these types of engagements, why would drinking present an additional challenge. I believe that a young adult is mature enough and already understands the importance of drinking moderately.

You do have a lot of very good points, now is it really nessecary to make it leagal to drink alcohol at the age of 18 or 21? I believe that 18 would be the best for consuming alcohol. The reason being is that in most countries, to considered an adult, it is at the age of 18 and not 21. You have the choice to get married to whoever and spend the rest of your life with at 18 years old but there is a catch.. You can't have a glass of wine cause your under the age of 21 but you can get married and build a life together. You'd think that getting married would be a harder responsibility then having a glass of wine with family and friends at a restaurant.

I agree with you on many points. I live in Canada and for me we are allowed to be drinking at the age of 18. But you know i've been drinking since i'm 16 so if the age limit was 21 it wouldn't change any thing. In our teens we want to experience new things, so for sure we brake the rules and we try things on our own even if it is not legal. Also, like you said, when we turn 18 we have loads more of responsability, like having the right to vote or even in the states to buy a gun. So why put the age limit at 21 when we all know that at 18 we are responsible enough to make bigger decision that will affect the rest of our lives and that we have already made our fare share of drinking during ou teens.

Your topic and title really caught my attention because as an 18-year-old this subject is interesting for me. However, I think that we should not lower the minimum drinking age in the United States because even if young people drink illegally it is still more difficult to access the alcohol than if it would be legal to drink at 18 years old. More than that, the alcohol consumption can have negative impacts on the development of the brain of young adults and they are vulnerable to a higher level of addiction than adults. Also, in my opinion, if the Congress decided that 21 years old is the MDLA it should be for a good reason. In the United States, many rights are conferred on citizens at 21 years old because the level of judgment and maturity is higher than for an 18-year-old. Indeed, it is not true that because you are considered as an adult at 18 years old that you can behave like one. Also, in a 2002 meta-study, 87% of the analyses found higher legal drinking ages associated with lower alcohol consumption and in 2009, the NHTSA found that the percentage of weekend nighttime drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher declined from 5.4% in 1986 (two years after the MLDA was raised to 21) to 2.2% in 2007. We also have to consider the fact that the younger people start to drink the more they are likely to continue than people who start drinking later in their life. This MLDA also helps to prevent binge drinking. In conclusion, I think that limiting as much as possible the drinking for young people is a good thing because we can therefore avoid abuse and accidents. Do you think that young people are responsible enough to know their limits or do they need legal limitation ?