Lowering Drinking Age Essay, Research Paper
AGE of ADULTHOOD—18
In the 1980’s it was legal for eighteen-year-olds to purchase and consume
alcoholic beverages. In 1984, the United States Government pressured the states to raise
the legal age to twenty-one (Rally). Their reasoning–eighteen-year-olds were too
immature and responsible in their partaking of alcohol. Outlawing the consumption of
alcohol by minors does not prevent underage drinking anymore than posting speed limit
signs prevents speeding! Is there something that all of the sudden makes us responsible
drinkers when we turn 21? Many times, we see people under 21 make complete idiots of
themselves while drinking. But can it not be concluded that we see an equal number of
people over the age of 21 engaging in those same activities? Age does not determine
whether or not an individual drinks responsibly.
Remorseless drinking has long been as much a ritual of university life as football,
final exams, and frat-parties! Alcohol abuse goes on quite often on college campuses
regardless of ones age. A great many problems related to alcohol use among college
students is in direct correlation to the national drinking age in this country. A 1996 study
found that eighty-four percent of college students under the age of twenty-one drink
(Jones 64). Although one may not have access to alcohol at a bar, but a student may be
drinking at a party or may just have an older friend buy their alcohol. Studies have
shown that college students who can legally purchase alcohol drink less than those who
can’t. This just makes it more exciting for one who is underage to drink because it is
Alcohol consumption does not appear to pose the monumental concern in other
countries as it does here in the United States. In countries that impose a drinking age, it
ranges from 16-18 years of age and in other countries there is not one at all. In Europe,
people do not consider “getting drunk” as an acceptable pastime (Mooney 18). One says
that in Germany, “the locals treat alcohol as a supplement to evening activities, not as the
main event” (Rally). If young adults are taught that drinking is a privilege and should be
taken seriously, the problem of alcohol abuse on college campuses and across the nation
would begin to change itself.
The idea is that an 18 year old is not mature enough to be trusted with alcohol but
can vote, pay taxes, serve on a jury, stay out later than curfew laws, leave home, drive,
smoke (in some states), buy weapons, engage in financial contracts, get married, give
birth, serve and die for our country in battle, and be tried as an adult in the court of law.
Eighteen-year-olds have the same responsibility as twenty-one-year-olds but are not
allowed to consume alcoholic beverages. Is it right to grant eighteen-year-olds all of
these privileges, responsibilities, and obligations yet restrict them from drinking alcohol?
If eighteen-year-olds have the ability to handle the freedoms and responsibilities of being
an adult, they should have the privilege to drink alcohol (Rally).
Is it really about you? The Unites States is a country of consumers, hypocrites and
ignorance. If we raise the age-limit for driving we will hurt the automakers (a lot less
consumption and lost jobs). So we raised the age for drinking—it is OK. No jobs lost.
You think it is about our lives? Do you think Washington cares about you or your lives?
No, they care about you and your life only as a consumer (Mooney 72)!
When the national drinking age was raised to twenty-one in the ‘80s, the intention
was primarily to reduce the number of alcohol related deaths in America. Among drivers
killed in motor vehicle crashes, the highest rates of alcohol intoxication occur in the age
group of 25-34, followed by 21-24 and then 35-44 (Jones 23). Conservatives and
lawmakers look down on lowering the drinking age because of the many consequences
linked to excessive drinking. Studies show that students under 21 are more likely than
any other age group to discourage peers from driving drunk (Rally). Therefore our role
models, our law makers, should introduce legislation for stricter drunk driving laws and
our educators implement drinking education programs in our schools.
Fake forms of identification are being purchased by underage adults to allow
them to drink alcohol. Raising the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 in the 1980s triggered
a boom in the business of creating fake ID cards (Mooney 34). People twenty-years of
age and younger are purchasing these fake forms of identification in order to allow them
to enter and drink in bars with their friends who are of age, and to allow them to purchase
beer in stores. Many say that no matter what age the government sets as the standard
legal drinking age, people who are underage are going to have friends who are older and
of age. If the legal drinking age were lowered down to eighteen, there would be fewer
instances where this situation would occur, because the majority of eighteen-year-olds
attend college with people who are older and of age.
Students need to learn how to drink in a mature, relaxed environment, the kind of
environment found in Europe and other foreign countries. Students who can approach
alcohol as a familiar and socially acceptable substance are more likely to behave
responsibly and rationally than those who must hunt it down and drink in secret. Students
will drink whether the minimum age is 21, 25, or 30. Because alcohol is not presented
as the normal adult activity that it can be, underage students view its consumption with
a “forbidden fruit” mentality that almost always end in excess (Jones 21). Lowering the
minimum age back to 18 would require a significant shift in this country, but it is a shift
that is crucial to the alcohol problem many college students and young adults face.
Arguments for lowering the drinking age on RALLY (Realistic Alcohol Laws for Legal
Youth). Spring 1995. Syracus University. (http://wwwl.rallyusa.org/)
Jones, N and Barnes, G. Alcohol Misuse Among College Students and Other Young Adults.
San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1998
Mooney, L., Granling, R., and Forsyth, C. Deviant Behavior. New York: Harper & Row,