Legal Drinking Ages

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It isn’t a secret that people drink alcohol before they turn 21. Pictures and posts cover the profiles of young adult’s social media pages showing the underage drinking and some of the irresponsible acts that they partake in while under the influence of alcohol. With this, much debate has centered around lowering the drinking age to 18 making what is commonly done, a legal act in the United States.

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However, lower the drinking age from 21 years old to 18 would cause more problems than good by simply making one less thing that needs to be on radar of police officers and other authorities. A drinking age of 18 would lead to the average drinking age to drop even lower due to easier access for younger kids, and would significantly increase the number of drunk driving accidents.

By lowing the drinking age to 18, teenagers under the age of 18 would have a greater accessibility to alcohol. Among current underage drinkers who did not pay for the alcohol they consumed the last time they drank (69%) the most frequently cited source of alcohol was an unrelated person aged 21 or older (32%) (responsibility.org). Currently 18-year-olds to 22-year-olds are in close contact by going to a college all together making it easier for people under age to acquire alcohol due to have peers that are of age in college. These peers could be friends, their fraternity big or sorority big, a friend of a friend, among other relationships. People drink in college and the college party culture along with those relationships allow for all college students to have access if they want it. Lowering the drinking age to 18 allows for these relationships to people of age to start at the high school age and younger. Most seniors in high school are 18 and there are the token Juniors who are also 18 years old. Like what has happened at the college level with students underage, getting their alcohol from students of age would begin to happen in the high school and junior high levels. Freshman, sophomores, and juniors would have access to alcohol from there of age peers which can also lead to younger kids drinking from the influence of their siblings etc.

If the drinking age was lowered, young adults would have access to alcohol and would be able to drink soon after they get their drivers licenses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that MLDA 21 decreased the number of fatal traffic accidents for 18- to 20-years-olds by 13% and saved approximately 27,052 lives from 1975-2008. Lowering the drinking age would only add to the number of accidents per year. The pairing of alcohol and driving would cause much problems throughout the United States. Approximately 2,000 underage drinkers die each year behind the wheel and alcohol is a factor in a third of all teenage auto fatalities. (dui.drivinglaws.org). Teenagers at this age are irresponsible and the number of deaths would only increase in drinking was legal. Underage drinkers are also more reckless and less likely to wear seatbelts– 74 percent of the young DUI drivers involved in fatal accidents were unrestrained at the point of impact. This shows the irresponsibility of drivers at the age and when paired with alcohol the irresponsibility increases significantly.

Some people think that since the legal age of adulthood is 18 years old and 18 is the age when one can join the military and vote, then they should be allowed to drink alcohol too. However, drinking alcohol contains a much greater responsibility than voting, and joining the military. Not everything is legal when one turns 18 years of age. With drinking comes responsibility and should be 21 and older like many other activities that require heightened responsibility. For example, buying a handgun, gambling in a casino, adopting a child, renting a car and running for president. Though the military requires a significant amount of responsibility, there is a lot of training that goes into being a member of the US military, not everyone can do it and those that do contain a great sense of discipline, maturity and respect for their country; something that the average 18 year old does not have.

Overall, lowering the drinking age would cause more harm than good by creating an environment where younger age children have access to alcohol, the number of drunk driving accidents would increase and the irresponsibility of the majority of young population to increases.

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