Lowering the Minimum Legal Drinking Age

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The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, passed by Congress in the year of 1984, enforced a change in the state laws of young drinkers to satisfy the worries of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD. The minimum legal drinking age was up for debate, yet the minimum age for more serious decisions stayed in place, despite national and international statistics which both prove how early drinking would help in practicing moderation and preventing the feeling of having privileges deprived. While the federal government cannot modify the minimum legal drinking age due to this law qualifying as a choice of the state government, they threatened to withhold ten percent of the annual federal highway funds from states who refused to raise their minimum legal drinking age from 18 to 21 by October of 1986. In response, every single state in America eventually agreed to meet the commands of the federal government rather than forfeit their annual allowance for their highway needs.

In the United States of America, an 18 year old legally becomes an adult. He or she finally owns the right to make very important decisions independently. Not only do their decisions affect their entire life, but they can also have an impact on their community. These relatively young adults legally vote for candidates of their choice to participate in very significant political roles, thus affecting their community. In the United States of America, 18 year olds own a right to smoke tobacco cigarettes which cause an annual average of 480 thousand American deaths, but prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages which cause an annual average of just 88 thousand American deaths. Parents should enforce moderate drinking at a young age which would be possible with a lower minimum legal drinking age. A 2014 article by David J. Hanson proves this point. No country other than the United Kingdom has a minimum legal drinking age for drinkers under parental supervision. The United Kingdom allows six year olds to drink alcoholic beverages with parental supervision and allow 18 year olds to drink independently while the American society looks down upon drinkers this young and do not legally allow 18 year olds to drink without parental supervision. In short, the American 18 year olda legal adultin some states abide by the same drinking laws as a six year old in the United Kingdom. In other American states, an 18 year old has even less drinking privileges than a six year old in the United Kingdom.

Out of the nearly 200 countries in the world, only 12 countries, according to a 2016 article from ProCon.org, have a minimum legal drinking age of 21. The United States of America, C??te d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Samoa, and Sri Lanka share the highest national minimum legal drinking age in the world. In the United Kingdom, children as young as six years old begin drinking alcohol under parental supervision and, in result, only 16 percent of traffic fatalities involved an intoxicated driver. America nearly doubles this number with 31 percent of traffic fatalities involving the influence of alcohol. Germany has a minimum legal drinking age of only 16 years old. Such a low minimum drinking age may frighten some American parents, however, only a diminutive four percent of vehicle collision fatalities in Germany can be traced to a driver under the influence of alcohol consumption. Furthermore, a slideshow published on MSN.com in 2016, The World's Drunkest Countries, ranked the United States of America as having the 20th highest drinking level in the world! The majority of the countries listed in the slideshow were said to have been successfully decreasing their drinking levels within the past several years, but the United States has kept a steady average of eight liters per person since the beginning of the century. According to studies performed by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, a total of 6.3 billion gallons of beer were consumed in the previous year.

Of the 50 states in America, another ProCon.org article says five have absolutely no exceptions to the minimum legal drinking age of 21 defined in their state laws. This ten percent of America results in significant discrepancies in statistics for traffic fatalities related to alcohol in comparison to the remaining states' statistics. However, these discrepancies do not compliment the strict ten percent of American states like one may imagine. The five states who refuse any exceptions to the minimum drinking age include Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Idaho. A 2018 article, These Are America's Drunkest States, by Cheyenne Buckingham shares various alcohol-related statistics of all 50 American States. The article recognizes that Arkansas has the lowest alcohol-related traffic fatalities of these five states, but comes in 15th lowest when compared to the entire nation. According to Yellow Hammer's News, an astounding 41 percent of underage adult drinkers in Arkansas are binge drinkers which means they consume a minimum of four drinks within a two hour time period. Utah, New York, Rhode Island, and Georgia have the lowest alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the nation respectively. Each of these states have legalized underage drinking with consent from a parent or guardian who exceeds the minimum legal drinking age of 21. The parent or legal guardian supervising the underage drinker must also literally and physically provide the drinker with the alcoholic beverage (not allow someone else to hand the child or young adult the drink, or allow the drinker to take the drink himself or herself) and of course give verbal consent to the minor. Utah and Georgia allow minors to consume alcohol for medical and religious purposes. The state of Rhode Island permits minors to consume alcohol for educational purposes such as for an assignment in the culinary arts. These exceptions to the minimum legal drinking age also take place in many other states' laws, along with a variety of other possible exceptions.

On average, 90 people in the United States die tragically in vehicle collisions on a daily basis. Sixty of these daily traffic fatalities involved an intoxicated driver. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of these drunk drivers responsible for the devastating deaths of those involved in alcohol-related vehicle accidents did not come from the minor's age group but from an age group seen by the American society as responsible drinkers and drivers. A 2010 study revealed that intoxicated drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 have caused more fatal traffic collisions in the United States compared to any other age group. Thirty-four percent of fatal vehicle collisions involving drivers under the influence of alcohol intoxication consisted of 21 to 24 year olds, 30 percent including 25 to 34 year olds, and 25 percent due to 35 to 44 year old Americans. This leaves less than 11 percent of fatal vehicle collisions due to intoxicated underage drinkers. Despite America's trust in 21 to 24 year olds with alcoholic beverages and the fragile lives of their neighbors on the road, more than double the number of underage drinkers had recently gained the privilege of consuming alcoholic beverages independently when they found themselves in life-threatening vehicle collisions. Sixteen year old drivers are new on the roads and not legally allowed to consume alcohol (even when not behind the steering wheel) which causes citizens to fear these teens may make dangerous and even life-threatening decisions with alcohol on the roads.

Since altering the minimum legal drinking age in the United States of America, drinking levels in wine and beer both escalated and dangerous drinking became more common. Although the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed to decrease the frequency of driving while intoxicated, many devastating deaths involved in fatal alcohol-related vehicle collisions have continued to increase. America denies 18 year olds the privilege of consuming an alcoholic beverage, yet permits more serious or even dangerous activities. Statistics across the nation and around the world prove how early drinking results in less dangerous drinking habits and alcohol-related vehicle collisions. Therefore, drinking at a younger age would, contrary to popular belief, help keep teenagers and young adults safe.

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Lowering The Minimum Legal Drinking Age. (2019, Jul 01). Retrieved February 23, 2024 , from

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