Lowering The Drinking Age: A Solution Or A Problem? Essay, Research Paper
Lowering the Drinking Age:
A Problem or a Solution?
Why is it that 18 year old citizens, like myself, can legally obtain a driver?s license, register to vote, be forced into jury duty or a draft, can be tried as an adult and even be put to death, but cannot buy and consume alcoholic beverages legally? It is hard for me to comprehend as a young American that we can be permitted or subjected to perform actions that affect the lives of other people, but we are not allowed to have the freedom of choice on an issue that directly involves one?s own life. By setting the standard drinking age at 21, a taboo was placed on alcohol for young people. Perhaps by settling the standard drinking age to 18 young adults would no longer see alcohol as the forbidden fruit it has become, but rather as an enjoyable substance that is meant to consumed maturely.
Local officials in Littleton, Colorado, feel that lowering their state?s legal drinking age would be a huge mistake. Colorado?s Department of the Treasury announced in October of 1997, that Representative Ron Tupa of Boulder was to introduce a bill to legislation for the lowering of the state?s drinking age to 18. Many of the local officials there felt that it was a ?bad idea which would cost lives? (Miret). According to the article, the Colorado?s State Treasurer?s office claims that there has been many studies that show how the raising of the drinking age to 21 has ?resulted in fewer teen-
age alcohol-related accidents? (Miret). However, other evidence suggests a different story. They are more alcohol-related accidents with people over the age of 21. A study of all 50 states and the District of Columbia found ?a positive relationship between the purchase age and single-vehicle fatalities? (Hanson, ?The Legal Drinking Age: Science vs. Ideology?). Thus, single-vehicle fatalities were found to be more frequent in those states with high purchase ages.
Can anyone really say that as a result of rising the drinking age to 21 that these dilemmas such as accidents, intake, and desire has largely decreased? There has probably been equal if not more accidents with the drinking age at 21. For instance, college students have always been blamed to have too many alcohol related incidents and problems. With this reputation no one really trusts the people of my age to be able to drink responsibly. ?A comparison of college students attending schools in states that had maintained, for a period of at least ten years, a minimum drinking age of 21 with those in states that had similarly maintained minimum drinking ages below 21 revealed few differences in drinking problems? (Hanson, ?The Legal Drinking Age: Science vs. Ideology?). For example, a large study of young people between ages of 16 and 19 in Massachusetts and New York after Massachusetts raised its drinking age revealed that ?the average, self-reported daily alcohol consumption in Massachusetts did not decline in comparison with New York? (Hanson, ?The Legal Drinking Age: Science vs. Ideology?).
College students, young teens and drinking will always be inevitably associated with each other regardless of the circumstances or rules. So what is the point of conceiving and enforcing a policy that is already failed and is doomed to fail?
Administrations cannot stop alcohol abuse, but they cannot ignore it either. With the college administrations ignoring it with the hopes that it will go away is simply
unaccepted and should not even be an option. What is the point attempting to bring a degree of control to something that is fundamentally uncontrollable?
Littleton?s police chief Gary Maas agrees with the State Treasures office that ?lowering the drinking age would mean nothing, but trouble? (Miret). So, what can be done? If we are not old enough to handle our alcohol, how can we be old enough to make decisions and take actions that will have an impact on the endurance of our nation? The government enforced prohibition in the 1920s and it is still not effective for those below the 21-year-old threshold today. For once, I believe that repealing the drinking age would be the best solution.
Maas also states with the lowering of the drinking age ?the booze goes in and the inhibitions go out and foolish things happen? (Miret). But with the lowering of the age, then more earlier children can be informed of problems that are associated with alcohol use and abuse the better the onset of teenage rebellion, which is what causes many alcohol related accidents. Responsibility and moderations must be stressed and zero tolerances for drinking and driving must always be enforced.
I just hope that U.S. lawmakers can change from their benign stance on this issue and follow the lead of European nations and even Canada. In those countries alcohol is seen more as a part of everyday life and thus is not abused by young people. They grow up learning the responsibility involved with drinking. If lawmakers, such as Representative Ron Tupa does of Colorado, and voters, like myself, have faith in
themselves as being proper parents and guardians, they will not fear lowering the drinking age, as they will be able to better teach their children how to drink alcoholic
beverages rather than letting them learn elsewhere how to abuse them. The lowering of the drinking age to 18 is the most simple and most sensible answer for the solution for drinking.