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Should the drinking age be lowered?

Updated on July 4, 2013

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Alcohol use in children
Alcohol use in children

Drinking age

Low Drinking Age Limit Consequences

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act that was passed by the United States Congress on July 17, 1984 requires all states of US to keep 21 years as the minimum age for purchasing or publicly possessing alcoholic drinks. The states were required to strictly enforce the law, lest they might need to suffer up to ten percent deduction in its annual federal highway apportionment as per the Under the Federal Aid Highway Act. States have attempted to implement this law in varying manners. Some states allow underage consumption of alcohol in certain circumstances. While some other states do not restrict the private consumption of alcohol. Certain states permit alcohol consumption in few specific locations, under the presence, complete consent and supervision of parents (family members). Drinking is also permitted during religious occasions. Felix Ortiz said that the law is unfair and difficult to enforce. Scott Klug (R-WI) the Former congressman tried to annul the act but was unsuccessful. He had to finally leave the decision making regarding the drinking age to the individual states.


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Danger in lower drinking age

Lower drinking age lead to underage drinking

Many important people have opined that the 21-year-old drinking age law is a useless social policy. Some considers the law as terrible. Several politicians with vested interest have pointed out that the drinking law made the college drinking problem even worse. However, the facts and figures, credible evidences and the general view prove that the law has indeed been successful in substantially decreasing the problems related to the purchase and possession of alcoholic drinks by minors. Even though this act is not found to be completely successful in decreasing the amount of alcohol consumption among youths, this has of course helped decrease alcohol abuse among the minors.

Legal drinking age limit should be increased

Drinking age limit – US drinking age

Truths testify that the crucial Minimum Drinking Age Act signed by the then-President Ronald Reagan has become a real boon to the whole nation. The law has saved the precious lives of nearly 25,000 youngsters who would have reached their end in alcohol-related traffic accidents (Asch and Levy, 180-192). Even though it is true that underage drinking still troubles the nation, the Minimum Drinking Age Act has made more minors refrain from purchasing and possessing Alcoholic drinks. Keeping the Minimum Drinking Age at the maximum level is always good.

Alcohol abuse in youngsters

Alcohol drinking age should be increased

Young people (especially minors) are not really aware of the real consequence of alcohol usage and tend to buy and keep it. However they are aware that they are not allowed to purchase and possess drinks. Only the Minimum Drinking Age law can keep the youngsters abstain from buying alcohol. Youngsters must reach at least a maturity stage of 22 years to understand why alcoholic drinks are prohibited. Young people below 21 years do not know the disastrous consequence of alcohol usage. They therefore tend to buy and keep drinks that destroy their life and career. Youngsters below 21 years are also psychologically vulnerable that they may buy, keep and use alcohol without any afterthought. These youngsters really do not know why there are asked to abstain from drinks purchasing and usage. Nothing but a strict law only can stop these thoughtless youngsters from buying and keeping alcoholic drinks. Glynn Birch, the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving has opined about Minimum Drinking Age Act that "because of the 21 law, underage drinking deaths have been cut from 8,000 annually in the 1980s to 6,000 per year today." Reducing the Minimum Drinking Age level would only give the youngsters an extra license to buy, keep and use alcoholic drinks. Even though these youths under 21 years use alcohol abundantly they would at least abstain from purchasing and possessing drinks. If the Minimum Drinking Age is decreased further, more youths would resort to purchase and keep alcoholic drinks.

Drug problem in the United States (Legal drinking age in US)

The drug problem has become a major problem inUnited States. Almost one third of the juveniles aged 12 to 20 use alcohol in US. According to the estimates nearly 11 million children or juveniles are alcohol consumers. According to the study conducted by the federal Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 20% of the alcoholic drinks inUnited Statesare consumed by children and juveniles. More than 7000 children inUnited Statesstart drinking alcohol everyday. The National Academy of Sciences has termed the problem of underage drinking as an epidemic.

Legal age for drinking should not be lowered

David Jernigan, the research director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth atGeorgetownUniversityhas explained the seriousness of the underage drug issue. According to him, the issue of juvenile drug use will not vanish easily. Only carefully planned new intervention strategies can help decrease the problem. David Jernigan says that the National Minimum Drinking Age Act has been very successful in keeping the issue of adolescent alcohol use under control. He says it was a huge step forward. He said about the act that "What happened is that we got big gains in reducing underage drinking because of '21' through the early 1990s."

Facts have proved that the Minimum Drinking Age Act 1984 has helped to reduce the underage drinking problems and the associated issues to a certain extent. In the year 1984 nearly 50% of the fatal accidents involving juvenile drivers aged 15-20 were the result of drunken driving. However the figures as per the estimates (federal statistics) in 1994 reveal that the figure reduced to 22% in 1994 (and later increased to 31% in 2003). Even though the underage drinking issue is increasing, the problems related to the purchase and possession of alcoholic drinks is controlled only because of the Minimum Drinking Age Act 1984. Public safety advocates and other investigating agencies are of the opinion that reducing the Minimum Drinking Age from 21 would only aggravate the problem. They say that if the minimum drinking age is reduced it would make young people openly purchase and possess alcoholic drinks.

Drinking in Children - Drinking is increasing at a fast rate among children. The Pennsylvania Youth Survey 2003 says that youths are attracted towards drinking than tobacco or other illicit drugs. A good percent of the youths below 21 years are students and other youngsters staying in hostels. A license for purchasing and possessing alcoholic drinks would make the youths freely (or openly) purchase and keep it (Engs and Hanson, 1988). Minimum Drinking Age Act 1984 is the only law that blocks these young ones from purchasing and keeping alcoholic drinks. Young drivers are at present afraid of police checking and other inspections. Even though they do for drunken driving they at least abstain from carrying these drugs. All this have saved college campuses, hostels, parks and other places from becoming places (Davis, 263-269). Had there been no rule that block the youngster from keeping drugs, majority of them would have carried a bottle of alcoholic drinks with them.

Children using alcohol (result of alcohol use in teenagers)

Consequences of alcohol usage in adolescents (effects if alcohol use in children) - The brain of children would proceed developing till the age 21. Alcohol has devastating effect on children. It affects the brain development. Alcohol has the power to severely damage the young brain. The whole American is perplexed with the problem of adolescent alcohol usage. Nothing is found to be effective in blocking children from using alcohol. Educating children about the consequence of alcohol use is also not found to be helpful in solving the issue. Children, adolescents, and youths continue to use alcohol in spite of being aware of the damage caused by alcohol. Even well educated youths are resorting to alcohol usage without any reluctance. More and more children are becoming active drinkers daily. Neither relatives nor teachers are able to keep children from using alcoholic drinks.

Importance of keeping the Minimum Drinking Age as 21

How to prevent children from using alcohol - The only legal control that has been put on this destructive practice of adolescent alcohol usage is the Minimum Drinking Age Act 1984. The law has at least been successful in keeping children from purchasing and possessing alcohol. At least the vehicles and residences (hostels etc) are somewhat freed from alcohol products. Lowering the Minimum Drinking Age would even abolish this advantage. It is therefore absolutely true to say that it is best forUnited Statesto maintain the Minimum Drinking Age as 21.

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    • profile image

      no 2 years ago

      LOWER IT.

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      john freeman 3 years ago

      yes they should lower the drinking age because i drink with my dad and he said its ok to drink with your parents

    • dhannyya profile image
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      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thanks fpherj48 for ur valuable comments. what u have said is true..a restriction would safeguard children to a certain extent

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      The drinking age should not be any younger than 21. I understand the rationale when people comment, "well, you can drive, join the military, get a job, get married,,,,etc." But...OK, let's look at that. I don't know what drinking alcohol has to do with much else we could bring up.....but, Under the age of 21, individuals are still learning so many life lessons, continuing their education, hopefully and attempting to go off more and more toward independence. I am not a tea-totaler, but I don't drink alcohol of any kind.....haven't for a couple of decades...just a personal choice.

      I certainly remember the drinking days just like anyone else does and I don't necessarily think it's a terrible thing, or that no one should ever drink.

      With age and wisdom and experience behind me now, I simply believe that becoming an independent, productive adult, requires such serious energy and focus, young adults should dedicate themselves to beneficial, healthy and safe activities. Drinking alcohol doesn't fall into that category.

      I realize "kids" don't pay much attention to the legal drinking age....if they choose to drink, they will, but at least sometimes a law can be enough of a deterrent for enough people to make a difference that matters.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I agree it should not be lowered! But what is the point! Those who wish to consume alcohol, will have it any way by hook or by crook!

      You know the pertaining situations on our country... no licensed retailer asks for an ID or age proof before selling alcohol to a suspected minor!

      The need of the hour is to create an awareness instead and help them know about where they can land.. physically and mentally by alcohol abuse at a young age!

    • dhannyya profile image
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      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thanks kgarcia1113 for your valuable comments

    • kgarcia1113 profile image

      Kassi Garcia 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV, USA

      I think they should either lower the drinking age or raise the age for entering the military. I am a parent and still think that if one of my boys is old enough to fight for his country here and over seas he should be able to legally drink as well. Many other countries around the world have 18 as the drinking age and they have less alcohol related problems then the US. The major issue is that parents don't teach their kids to be responsible they simply put their foot down and say no. That doesn't teach anything.

    • coffeealera profile image

      coffeealera 5 years ago

      I used to think that it may be possible. But that was before I was a father, now - not a chance. Increase it.

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 5 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      The followers of alcohol are increasing day by day. Even minors are entering in this unknown field. Its should avoided on any situations. Good Hub... My prayers for better number of readers for this hub. Voted up and shared.

    • dhannyya profile image
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      dhannyya 5 years ago

      yes wewillmake...being a malayalee i have always seen the sufferings of families with alcohol users

    • dhannyya profile image
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      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thanks SidKemp for the comment

    • wewillmake profile image

      wewillmake 5 years ago from kerala-INDIA

      No, it shouldn't be lowered . It should be increased. Many of our youngsters got spoiled by the liquor.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 5 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      This is an excellent summary of the issues. Voted up and interesting, and shared. I would add that, when drinking was legal at age 18, alcohol was legally available to high school seniors, and alcohol was, therefore, shared throughout all high school and part of high school culture. I think that raising the age for drinking to 21 was a step in the right direction, and should be maintained.

      Thank you for raising consciousness on this crucial issue!

    • profile image

      Starmom41 5 years ago

      Well, at 18 a person can join the military, serve his/her country, get married, vote, and all of those things that mean 18-year-olds are considered adults, so I believe being able to legally purchase alcohol should be included.

      When 18-20-year-olds aren't mature enough to make responsible decisions, it only means parents aren't doing their jobs.

    • handymanbill profile image

      Bill 5 years ago from western pennsylvania

      No, The drinking age should not be lowered.