Fixing a minimum drinking age for Americans has always brought out popular debates among American citizens. Since 1984, when an “act,” established came into law, here in the United States limiting the consumption of alcohol to persons aged 21 and older, there arose defender and attackers of the act. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 required all states to raise their minimum purchase and public possession of alcohol age to 21. States that did not comply faced a reduction in highway funds under the Federal Highway Aid Act.
Some of the supporters of the act acknowledge it as the best legislation ever made in American history. For one, it prohibits alcohol consumption under the age of 21, including the purchase of it. With the “legal” drinking age set at age 21, both the government and parents perceive this individual as mature and capable of making rational decisions as compared to an 18 year old person.
Ironically, as people turn 18, the government allows them to have an identification card. With an identity card, an individual can join military, marry, fly airplanes, participate in pornography, and even work in private or public institutions.
However, with all these legal rights allowing them to participate in all of the above activities, the law still bars them from consuming alcohol until they are at least age 21. This is where the debate entangles. The attackers of the Act wonder how, somebody who performs all these functions furthermore under law, cannot drink.
Consider the supporter’s point of view: excessive alcohol consumption affects the health of consumers while subjecting them to diseases and accidents. Everyday accidents occur on roads due to drivers being under the influence of alcohol.
In hospitals, many are suffering from irreversible diseases that result from excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as liver disease, and sadly, in dramatically increasing numbers, the misunderstandings between partners who happen to be consumers of this commodity are only increasing. On the other hand, doctors advise against alcohol consumption as it kills brain cells.
Perhaps this is the major reason why there is a minimum drinking age. If young people become drunken masters, their educational intellect will be questionable courtesy of alcohol. (Lund Para. 2-11).
During Vietnamese war, minimum drinking age limit was 18 years of age. Young sent to war consumed alcohol at will. As a result, those who remained back utilized this opportunity drinking even when driving. However, traffic accidents increased tremendously.
This forced Congress to sanction American states in raising the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 to control death cases. Since then, road accidents became minimal making road transport comfortable. The paper examines why Americans should never reduce the minimum drinking age from 21 to 18.
The reason why Americans changed the minimum drinking age from 21 to 18 is that, young people caused harm and risks to not only to their lives, but also to other persons. At 18 years of age, most young persons are still undergoing physiological and psychological body changes associated with adolescence. Therefore, parents and governments should control the psychological behavior of young persons especially in colleges, rest they affect themselves physiologically.
The issue of minimum drinking age came into limelight when highway accidents increased all over the states of America. This called on the government to exercise its powers so that these cases diminish. From the statistical report compiled by The National Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), road accidents committed by drivers under the age of 21 were more, as compared to those under 21 years between 1987 and 1996.
This is because; the ‘act’ did not allow purchasing or possession of alcohol to persons less than 21 years of age. On the other hand, between 1882 and 1986, when the minimum drinking age was as from 18, stood at high percent only to drop by around 13 percent when the act became a law. (McCardell Para. 3-8).
All over the world, different countries have different minimum drinking age limits. Like in America, these countries have their own debates on this ‘act’. All Americans whether opposing it or supporting the act generally accept that, drinking among young people is sometimes harmful. For example, drinking at the age of between 18 and 20, reduce the sensitivity of these people making then vulnerable to excessive alcohol consumption. (McCardell Para. 10-17).
Excessive alcohol consumption affects the physiological fitness of these people as they are still developing. Alcohol develops neural pathways in the brain and in a situation where the consumer is young, it leads to memory retardation and other physiological impairment associated with the brain. Therefore, increasing the minimum age from 18 to 21, means preserving young people from memory loss, excessive drinking and social and physical destructions.
Young people at the age of 18 and 21 can engage in uncontrollable drinking behaviors than those above 21. Consequently, these people can participate in unruly and aggressive behaviors, which lead to highway accidents and other social and physical calamities.
Most young people in United States colleges engage in binge drinking; and guess the result is risky and abnormal activities like sexual behaviors, which make them vulnerable to sexually transmitted disease. The fixation of a minimum drinking age in United States is about cultural attitude where injuries, defiant behaviors and accidents become minimal. (Faler Para. 2-4).
Some researchers argue that, the occurrence of road accidents is blame on the police and therefore, the minimum drinking age is subjective. On the contrary, these researchers must understand that, controlling road accidents start with psychological behaviors.
Young people possessing vehicles and therefore, driving at a tender age, adding alcohol influence on their part, sum up to road accidents. Police cannot be under blame for mistakes committed under legal grounds. The law should be abiding and discourage those under 21 never to drink.
The problem with uncontrolled young people is that, they utilize cultural and religious norms, government laws, media adverts, peer pressure and family background to do malicious things. The debate should rather focus on the harmfulness of introducing alcohol to young persons and its impact in adulthood.
Young people even less than 25 years of age are prone to a myriad of risks if they excessively consume alcohol. The best way however can be, to provide sound education to young persons. This cans help them realize the dangers or alcohol at a tender age and its impact on the brain, education, workplaces and in adulthood.
Alcohol among the youth is responsible for unruly behavior in colleges and unnecessary demonstrations in public universities. In other occasions, transnational crimes and terrorism attacks receive propulsion from drug and alcohol abuse. With all these cultural and social effects, the minimum drinking age should be at 21. (Schlesinger and Jefferson Para 6-7).
The law on minimum drinking age came into limelight when road and highway accidents increased. Most accidents occurred because drivers were under influence of alcohol. Although the government changed the minimum age from 21 to 18 during Vietnamese war, it later changed it back to 21 years. Since then, there has been minimal number of road accidents as compared to the former. This was success on the part of government and Americans at large.
However, parents and tutors should be at the fore front counseling youths on the dangers of alcohol. If their attitude changes, they will start viewing themselves as not prisoners to law. On the other hand, driving schools should instruct their trainees not to drive while drunk. They can withdraw driving licenses of drivers who commit accidents if found to be under the influence of alcohol.
Highway accidents do happen due to reckless driving. Reckless driving associates itself with poor concentrations, one of it being alcohol consumption. Lastly, law-enforcing agencies should ensure no young adult under the age of 18 and 20 involve in binge drinking. Alcohol consumption not only causes depression and stomach problems, but loss of life and property as well.
Faler, Mary. The Legal Drinking Age Debate: Should It Be Lowered? Suite101.com. 2009. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.
Lund, Adrian. Protecting Teens from the Dangers of Alcohol Use and Abuse: Wishful Thinking versus Science. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.
McCardell, John. Commentary: Drinking Age of 21 Doesn’t Work. CNNPolitics.com. 2009. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.
Schlesinger, Robert, Jefferson, Thomas. The Drinking Age Debate: Time to Go From 21 to 18, But It’s Not an Easy Call. 2009. Web.21 Feb. 2010. Opinion.