Drinking alcohol is one of the most popular activities that the world does when people get together and either celebrate any event or simply meet with friends to blow off some steam. Teenagers get together at many different types of venues, such as parties, backyards or even out in the woods and alcohol always seems to find its way there also. If someone under the age of twenty-one wants alcohol bad enough, there is always a way that they can get it. Whether they have the fake ID or they know someone of age to get it for them, alcohol is usually pretty easy to get. Teenagers drink whether the law prohibits them or not and having a drinking age of twenty-one puts a mystique on drinking that causes young people to want to do it more than ever. Lowering the drinking age to eighteen is a way of taking the taboo away and encouraging rebellious minded teenagers want to break the law which will in turn make less work for police and local authorities who are fighting a battle that will never be won. The drinking age should be lowered to eighteen to save time and money of those who are enforcing the law and the people of the United States who are paying for it and the drinking age should match the standards of the military in which someone who is eighteen is allowed to fight for their country, so they should be able to have a beer if they want.
Since 1984, 48 of the 50 states have used the drinking age of 21 as the minimum limit to which people were able to buy or drink alcohol legally. In 1988, the last two states of South Dakota and Wyoming followed suit. Forty-one states did also set exception laws that would allow drinking of a “minor” under certain situations, for example; 29 states allow drinking on private premises with parental consent, 30 states for religious purposes and 13 states for educational purposes. (ProCon.org 2011)
Underage drinking is as useless a fight as trying to stop drugs totally from being brought into America. No matter how many laws are passed or rules are set to try and deter the use of these products on the people of this country, it is going to be done one way or another. It is always good to have laws on such goods so that young people are not acting in mass hysteria and there are drunk children running the streets, but if an age group such as the eighteen year old are able to do it with such ease anyway and only a very small percentage of them are actually caught by authorities, and for this reason, it all seems to be a complete waste of time.
More money is being spent by our tax dollars to run an uphill battle. The time that is spent enforcing this law could be used by our officers finding and fighting more serious drugs and other problems that occur on our streets everyday. Writing up a young person or going through the court process for someone so young has got to be on the minds of those who do it as a complete waste of time also. It is around the time of graduation for highschool students and college students that most parties are thrown that attract millions of young drinkers to come to them. For the kids that are caught by police and brought up on chargers, it causes them legal problems for months and years that can affect their careers going forward, causing some hard working students to suffer, sometimes preventing them from progressing forward. (John Cloud 2008)
The laws that prevent underage drinking do limit the numbers of drinking due to the fact that the teenagers or twenty year olds who don’t want to break the law and continue to concentrate on more important aspects of their life, like education, but the ones who do decide to drink, do it to a point that is extremely dangerous. Dr.. David J. Hanson, a sociologist at State University of New York, who has been studying alcohol and drinking for over 40 years says, “Fewer young adults drink, but when they do drink they tend to drink more, and I’m mostly concerned about drinking to excess. When you prohibit drinking legally, it pushes it into places that are uncontrolled, like fraternity houses. These are places that promote drinking games and excessive, rapid consumption of alcohol, which puts people in danger of getting alcohol poisoning, and that can be fatal.” (2011)
The United States military allows service men and women to join up at the age of eighteen years of age and sometimes even seventeen with a waiver explaining the reason. If a young person can be asked to fight for his country and risk his or her life domestically or abroad, shouldn’t a person of that age also be trusted with having good judgment to also buy and drink alcohol. This is probably the biggest argument that many use when expressing their opinions on why the drinking age should be lowered. An eighteen year old with a gun in his hand is more dangerous than an eighteen year old with a beer in his hand. Although military members are not usually permitted to take their weapons off of base, they are still given the responsibility of handling a weapon while surrounded by many other service members and in times, civilians if patrolling the streets of a foreign country where the enemy chooses to hide among them.
One of the dangers of lowering the drinking age that has been seen before in the past. During the 1970’s, when the legal drinking age was actually dropped back to to eighteen year of age, there were more reported younger and younger drinkers from before when it was twenty one. (James C. Fell 2011) Drinking had been reported in junior high schools and middle schools which was a staggering find. The reason for this to me is simple. Young people usually have older friends that topple off after a couple of years. If the drinking age is lower, then young people have a younger access of friends who are able to buy alcohol for them. This being the case, if the drinking age were lowered back down to eighteen, the same past would probably come back to haunt us.
Another good reason for lowering the drinking age to eighteen is that in other countries such as Italy, China and Greece, there are far less alcohol related incidents than in the United States. The reason for this is that if the “taboo” or “forbidden fruit” curiosity of drinking is taken away, then less are tempted by it and it’s not given such a high regard when it comes to young people. The curious try it young and can decide earlier if they enjoy the taste or feeling it gives before they are allowed to get behind the steering wheel of a car because the driving age is higher than the drinking age. Take away the sin and that results in less sinners.
Having said that, lowering the drinking age to an age group that feels like they are invincible, can cause alcohol related incidents and death in other ways. Educating young people about the possible outcomes of drinking too early isn’t enough. Young people will continue to have the attitude that nothing can happen to them until something actually does and by that time, it is too late. Teenagers think they know everything, and until they are given the harsh truth that they don’t with accidental physical harm or even law persecution, they will continue to have that attitude.
With over one hundred college Presidents in 2009, including such schools as Virginia Tech, Dartmouth and Duke, signing a declaration that the drinking age of 21 is not working (CBS News Magazine 2010), it is easy to say that lowering the drinking age is something that needs to be done. The facts are that lowering the drinking age, although harder to see without actually doing so, will take away the mystique behind it. Drinking is going on anyway, no matter how hard people are against it, it is happening. The United States needs to concentrate on more important issues than passing laws that will just drive the use of alcohol further and further underground and causing more and more binge drinkers. Until this happens, useless amounts of time and money will be spent on something that will never go away.
ProCon.org. Drinking Age. Should the Drinking Age be Lowered to a Younger Age. (2011) ProCon.org, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 9 Jan. 2011. http://drinkingage.procon.org/#background
Cloud, John. “Time U.S. Magazine.” Should the Drinking Age be Lowered. Editor Richard Stengel. June 2008.1-6. Print
Fell, John C. “Los Angeles Times.” Health: Keeping the Drinking Age at 21 Save Lives, and There is No Reason to Fix What isn’t Broken. 30 May 2011 55-56.
Admin. “CBS News Magazine”. 60 Minutes: The Debate on Lowering the Drinking Age. March 2010. (1-5)