U.S. Legal Drinking Age Should be Lowered

by egund1 on September 12, 2013 - 9:47pm

In this article written by John McCardell, who was the founder and president of a nonprofit organization dedicated to inform the public by discussions about the presence of alcohol in 18-20 year old Americans, he suggests that the U.S. legal drinking age should be lowered. The drinking age in the U.S. has been set to 21 since 1984. At 18 people are allowed to serve on a jury, become responsible for ones debts, and go into the armed forces, but are not allowed to buy beer. For young people this rule leaves many confused and hard to understand. The drinking age of 21 is set because the U.S. law makers believe anyone under that age have a lack of judgment and maturity and can’t be allowed the privilege to buy and consume alcohol, but if that is so then why do they believe younger people are capable of being mature and making good judgment towards other adult responsibilities? For example, 75% of high school seniors, 60% sophomores, and 40% eighth graders have consumed alcohol before. Over 5,000 lives under the age of 21 are lost each year due to alcohol-related cases. Clearly, the current laws on drinking are not working. Based on the College Alcohol Study, from 1993 to 2001 the major portion of students that engaged themselves in binge drinking had increased. This behavior is not taking place in public places because of the law and the consequences that come with drinking underage in public, but it is happening behind closed doors, where people don’t see. The problem with this is that more and more alcohol-related accidents that occur behind closed doors occur more than on the roadways. What needs to be done is to educate and prepare young adults to make responsible decisions when it comes to alcohol. We need to prepare them the same way we would prepare them to operate a motor vehicle, which is through the home, school and government. In many European countries around the world, the age for drinking is 16. Some other nations don’t even have a minimum drinking age. What I believe to be most important from this article is that the author is right, if at the age of 18 we can be able to vote, serve in the army, sign contracts, and serve in a jury, why can’t we be able to buy and consume alcohol?? Keeping the drinking age to 21, in my opinion, is going to cause younger adults 18-20 to continue to consume alcohol but behind closed doors, putting them all at more of a risk for alcohol-related injuries and deaths.

McCardell, J. (2010, Spring). Yes, the U.S. Legal Drinking Age Should be Lowered. Insights on Law & Society, 18-21.



Like you, I think it is ironic to be able to vote and serve in the army when you are 18, but not being able to buy alcohol. The issue here is if they are autonomous enough to drink safely. In other countries where the drinking age is 16 or 18, there are not more accidents than in the U.S. In fact, like you said, most people under the age of 21 have already consumed alcohol anyway.

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