Underage Drinking Age 21 Essay, Research Paper
Why did the United States of America pass a law to increase the drinking age from 18 to 21? The answer is because increasing the drinking age to 21 has effectively reduced the percentage of alcohol related deaths throughout the country. It seems that at 18, youths are not mature enough to handle the responsibilities and consequences that result from the privilege of being able to legally drink alcoholic beverages.
The major reason for the increase in legal drinking age from 18 to 21 is that drunk driving accidents are the number one reason for death among young people than anything else in the nation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vital Statistics Mortality Data report that: “More than 35 percent of such fatalities involving persons ages 15 to 20 are alcohol related. In 1996, 2,315 youth died in alcohol-related crashes”. Underage drinking and driving is a huge problem in this country, and it would only escalate if the drinking age were lowered back to 18 years of age, like it was in the early 80’s. Another look into this problem was a study reported by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over a 20-year period. “In the last 20 years, annual arraignments for DUI in Massachusetts have ranged from a high of 39,912 (in 1984) to 18,809 in 1998”. This finding proves the fact that when the legal drinking age in Massachusetts was 18 years of age, there was over double they arraignments made for driving while intoxicated. Raising the legal age to 21 helped save many lives that would have been theoretically lost to drunk driving accidents.
“Because 18-year-olds are typically seniors in high school, it has been argued that legally entitling them to drink may make alcohol more accessible to their younger classmates”. This is another strong argument that supports the reason for the legal age to be set at 21. What age are you as a senior in high school? Most seniors in high school are 18 years old and if they could drink booze, I could see that not being such a good thing. I think that buying alcohol for minors would be a much bigger problem, along with even more underage drunk driving as the result of 18 year olds contributing to 17 and even 16 year old classmates.
Overall, there are many reasons why the current legal drinking age is more appropriate. Drinking and driving among teenagers is the main reason to keep the legal age at 21. From the studies I provided, you can easily see that in the early 80’s when the drinking age was 18, there was far more deaths and accidents among young people. Another major factor to leave the drinking age at 21 is that at age 18, many seniors in high school are old enough to buy alcohol. This would only further spill over into the hands of younger classmates. Having the drinking age at 21 is a good start at ultimately saving many lives in this country.
Highway Traffic Law, (Copyright January 1986: Community Legal Education Ontario) p.17-32 Government Document, Canada Law Reform Commision Report on Investigative Tests: Aclohol, Drugs, and Driving Offences (1983). Erwin,Richard E. M.Bender ,Defence of Drunk Driving Cases, Criminal Civil (Albany 1986) p.79-81 Purich, Donald John, Drinking and Driving:What To Do If Your Caught (International Self Counsel Pr. 1978) p.22-25 Verticle File at Hill Crest Library, Drinking and Driving-Offences ands penalties:A Summary (1988) p.2 Verticle File at Hill Crest Liabrary, Criminal Code-Part 6 (1989), section 3, section 11. Verticle File at Hill Crest Library, HighWay Trafic (1989), section 26