Drinking Age in the United States

The United States legal drinking age of twenty one years has been the subject of discussion for a long time based on the fact that some people are for it, while others are against it. The act which was established in 1984 prohibits drinking below the age of twenty one as it states that any state which allows teenagers under the age of twenty one to purchase alcohol would not receive any revenue.

Before 1984, the minimum drinking age varied from state to state such that some states would allow teenagers to consume alcohol publicly while others would not allow it to happen. However, although it is believed that all states go by that law, some states still allow teenagers to drink in private settings.

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Consequently, different agencies and scholars have come up with their proposals concerning the same issue. As much as both sides have got their own reasons, based on several factors, the legal drinking age should be lowered to eighteen years. In addition, since America recognizes an adult after attaining eighteen years, it is illogical to prevent such a person from enjoying rights being enjoyed by other adults.

Therefore, bent on that, this essay argues for the idea that the drinking age should be lowered to eighteen years since the current law does not make much sense.

Majority who propose the drinking age to remain at twenty one argue that teenagers drink irresponsibly and end up getting involved in irresponsible and risky behaviors like careless driving. However, in the same country, a person can be taken to court and be tried at the age of eighteen years and above.

Therefore, even if someone commits such a crime, there is usually a way to deal with such incidences. In addition, the court is supposed to maintain law and order and therefore, teenagers under the age of twenty one ought not to be prevented from drinking in order to prevents accidents and other unlawful behaviors (Engs, 1998).

In United States, a person is allowed to join the military after attaining eighteen years of age. Therefore, it means that in legal terms, a person aged eighteen years can be considered as an adult and more to that, such a person can be trusted with very sensitive and important responsibilities like protecting the country from military attacks.

On the same note, such a person is also allowed to make decisions that affect the future of a country like voting. Bent on that, it is clear that in legal terms, a person who has attained eighteen years is mature and should be allowed to enjoy other rights that are being enjoyed by the rest of the population (ICAP, 2002).

Before making major conclusions, it is important to compare the problems of alcohol that existed before the establishment of the law and after the establishment of the law. According to Engs (1998), even after the establishment of the alcohol law in the year 1987, teenagers below the age of twenty one were still involved in irresponsible drinking which is characterized by behaviors such as missing classes, poor performance and other forms of violence.

The same study illustrates that the main cause of such behaviors is as a result of prohibiting teenagers from drinking in the company of adults who can teach them responsible drinking behaviors. Therefore, even though consumption of alcohol has reduced, other problems that emanate from the same have increased.

Since the main aim of rising alcohol drinking age is to lower such problems, a critical evaluation indicates that that the law does not entirely serve the intended purpose. It would then be more logical to lower the drinking age and allow teenagers to drink in public places; together with the older members of the society so that they can be taught how to drink in a responsible manner.

A study conducted by ICAP (2002) indicated that although United States is among the countries that have the highest drinking age; it has more problems with alcohol than other countries which have a lower minimum drinking age. For instance, in a country like Netherlands, the minimum drinking age of teenagers is eighteen although at sixteen; one is still allowed to buy alcohol from premises which are licensed.

Nevertheless, any one below the age of eighteen is not allowed to purchase and consume spirits. Similarly, in a country like New Zealand, the minimum legal drinking age is eighteen years meaning that all teenagers above the age of eighteen can purchase and drink alcohol at all licensed premises like bars and restaurants.

In consequence, since more countries have a legal drinking age of eighteen years, the minimum drinking age of United states is not is only strange but also impractical. Although countries like Britain and United Kingdom still record deaths that result from road accidents caused by driving under the influence of alcohol, U.S still records higher death rates than such countries (Engs 1998).

United States is characterized by many violent activities that require the attention of police officers and other law enforcement agencies. With such a high minimum drinking age, the police officers usually have a lot of work in monitoring the drinking age of teenagers below the age of twenty one.

Worse still, research that has been conducted indicated that teenagers below the age of twenty one drink more than even the people above that age. If the minimum age was lowered, the police and other agencies that enforce law and order would concentrate on other activities instead of focusing on college and high school students.

As much as anyone may want to argue that increasing the drinking age is helpful, the available research and evidence illustrates otherwise. The main problem emanates from the fact that rising the drinking age has little if any impact on behavior. To confirm this, Hanson (n. d.) records that in a study which was conducted among teenagers aged sixteen to nineteen years, the daily intake of alcohol did not change even after minimum drinking age was raised.

In addition, in yet another study which was conducted in the District of Columbia, results illustrated that there were more accidents in states which had a high minimum drinking age. Studies conducted illustrated that once the drinking age was raised, teenagers below the drinking age developed a habit of borrowing alcoholic drinks form their older colleagues and that is the main reason why the consumption rate remained high.

A critical review of the alcoholic related issues prior to the increasing of the minimum drinking age and after clearly illustrates that the law does not solve the intended problem. The main reason is due to the fact that it targets a certain age group and not the alcohol problem at hand. Although no one negates the fact that alcohol is a major problem to teenagers, it is important to come up with a law that can solve the problem instead of aggravating it.

Even if alcohol abuse is serious since it carries serious consequences, it is possible to come up with a law that can mitigate the problem. For example, even without much struggle, studies have indicated that in societies where alcohol is not prohibited like in the Jewish society, young people have less problems than in a place like United States where there is a law prohibiting anyone below the age of twenty one from taking and buying alcohol.

References

Engs, R. C. (1998). Why the drinking age should be lowered: An opinion based upon research. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/articles/cqoped.html

Hanson, D. J. (n.d.). The Legal Drinking Age: Science vs. Ideology. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/YouthIssues/1046348726.html

Internartional Center For Alcohol Policies (ICAP). (2002). Drinking Age Limits. Retrieved December 4, 2010, from http://www.grsproadsafety.org/themes/default/pdfs/Drinking%20Age%20Limits.pdf

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