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Lowering the Drinking Age in America Essay

Being eighteen in the United States of America gives each citizen a newborn freedom. However when it comes to the consumption of alcohol, being eighteen restricts one from being allowed to legally buy, or consume alcohol. The most debatable topic a supporter of changing the drinking age would argue, is that if citizens are old enough to fight for our country, they should be able to purchase an alcoholic beverage. The consumption of alcohol age should be lowered to eighteen for economic purposes to benefit the nation, and the number of drunk driving accidents could decrease. Due to just some of these reasons, the legal drinking age should be lowered from twenty-one to eighteen. If one is recognized as a legal adult, with the ability to make decisions independently, the consumption of alcohol should be held to one’s discretion.

When one turns eighteen, there are many decisions that can be made, but alcohol is not one of them. The ingestion of alcoholic beverages should be at ones own pleasure. With every decision made in life there is a cause and effect; both can be either good or bad. Some privileges given to an eighteen year old American with the ability to encounter decisions to make independently include: the ability to vote, marry, smoke a cigarette (in most states), enlist in the military, give sexual consent, apply for a credit card, and buy a home.

The same way the consent is given to engage in sexual intercourse, there is risk of getting pregnant. Every time cigarette is lit, the number of chances of getting lung cancer increase. Without self-control, a newly obtained credit card can instantly become maxed out (pros and cons. 2014, July 18). Although, if one practices moderation the consequences listed above can be preventable. Thus being the case, then why would it not be substantial to consume alcohol? The drinking age should not be postponed to the age of twenty-one solely because if an individual can make accountable decisions based on their own body, they should have the right to do so.

From the early stages of our mental development, we are taught what is right and what is wrong. Being eighteen or twenty-one does not change the logic of drinking until the point of intoxication is not what is best for you. Whether you are eighteen or twenty-one, understanding that operating a vehicle, while intoxicated, is both a hazard to yourself and others on the road, the individual just needs to be responsible. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, was enforced during FDR’s presidency, is initiated by MADD, (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to eliminate “less mature” eighteen year olds, from having alcohol in their possession. (Pros and cons. 2014, July 18).

However, what many fail to realize is that before the MDAA was enacted, the number of drunk driving fatalities decreased among all age groups and demographics, leaving this Act irresponsible for the positive shift in society, in 1980. There were fewer drinking and driving fatalities worldwide in countries that do not prohibit eighteen year olds from consuming alcohol. In 1980, America had less drunk driving related fatalities than any other European country with legal drinking ages under twenty-one. (Pros and cons. 2014, July 18). If the United States lowers the drinking age to eighteen, the number of drunk driving fatalities could decrease just like Europe.

Movements have been set forth to help politicians realize how beneficial changing the legal age would be. In 2008, college presidents launched the Amethyst initiative, which supports the idea of lowering the drinking age to promote moderation and reduce risks common for drinkers at a younger age. This initiative recognized drunk driving as a serious problem; however it is not the only danger targeting underage drinkers. They contend that by allowing colleges and universities to have alcohol openly available to all inhabitants of its campus, risk factors such as drinking-fueled violence, alcohol poisoning, and drunken injuries would be eliminated on campuses. Essentially, because the college and/or university would be able to educate their students on the dangers of consuming alcohol, now they could take part in the activity effectively. (Cary, Mary Kate.7 May 2014)

Psychologically, lowering the drinking age would eliminate many rebellious individuals from seeking the consumption of illegal alcohol. Many people set out to do things they know are not allowed, just for the fun of it. If eighteen year olds were allowed to drink, they would not be more likely to engage in the act or be able to put themselves in harm’s way. In today’s society, underage drinking is understood as the norm; however, it is still frowned upon. Accidents caused by drinking, is what causes the downfall of a teens drinking experience, mainly due to the fact it is looked down upon. Whether the teen was sneaking around so the cops, or their parents, would not scold them for drinking, or their friend gets sick but does not want to get in trouble for having alcohol and let their friend die. More related incidents come because of avoiding the consequences of the law. If this law of the legal drinking age did not exist, then things would turn around for the better.

For example, the first time a teen gets to experience their first drink, they are less inclined to practice moderation because they understand that it is not something they are allowed to do or can easily do often, causing the teen to risk alcohol poisoning. If the consequences of underage drinking could potentially lead to jail, human nature would trigger the individual to leave the scene of the accident before they are jeopardized too. If drinking were allowed and an eighteen year old just had too much to drink that night, then calling an ambulance and seeking medical attention would not be the last thing in that individual’s mind because they would not fear their livelihood. Relating back to understanding what is right or wrong, self-preservation usually overrides doing what is better for someone else, rather than themselves. More harm has come from having the drinking age at twenty-one because alcohol is still going to be consumed whether it is legally or illegally.

Raising the age of alcohol consumption has not eliminated underage drinking completely; in fact a majority of alcohol is consumed by underage drinkers. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 17.5% of underage drinking accounts revenue was from underage buyers. Another study, completed in 2006 acknowledged that about 72.2% of twelfth graders in America admitted to having drunk alcohol. Since a large amount of alcohol is illegally obtained, the number of citizens complying with government regulations has declined.

If anything, underage drinking has promoted the use of creating, selling and buying false identification. In today’s society where identity theft is a common concern and national security concerns are always in high alert due to illegal circulation of documents, in lieu of fraud, immigrations and terrorism, having fewer false identifications circulating throughout the United States would be safer for our nation and would show more respect for the law from its citizens (public health spot, 23,May 2014).

Haste makes waste and what the government fails to realize is that aside from the perk of the well being of an eighteen year old drinker being increased, the economy can then benefit too. By changing the minimum legal drinking age to eighteen, more people would have access to legal alcohol, which would raise sales across the board. This would benefit small businesses, bars, restaurants, clubs and any other licensed establishment in the country. Also, more job opportunities will expand due to the increase in consumers, and the overall increase in demand. If alcohol sales increased, then the government would be able to collect larger amounts of tax revenue and greatly reduce spending on anti-alcohol campaigns.

If so many positive outcomes could come from changing the legal drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen then why are the states not arguing to keep their legal drinking age at eighteen fighting back to regain their once acquired right? While it is indefinitely argued that state governments should have the right to establish their own legal drinking age, the federal government puts a hold on the states economy by allowing the age to be changed.

The federal government threatened to withhold 10% of highway funding from any state that resisted complying with the act. Yet again, the federal government took a step forward and pressured their choice on states decisions regarding monetary affairs, forcing the states to choose from losing millions in annual highway funds or keeping their minimum legal drinking age at eighteen (Pros and cons, 2014. July18).

We see there are many legal, psychological, economic and moral prospective points that benefit the drinking age to be lowered to eighteen. Changing the national drinking age to 18 will secure safety among teens across the nation, assist the economy, and act on promoting alcohol moderation by having it obtainable by those who choose to drink.


ProCon.org. (2014, July 18). _Minimum Legal Drinking Age_ http://drinkingage.procon.org/

Cary, Mary Kate. “Lower the U.S. Drinking Age.” _US News_. U.S.News & World Report, 7 May 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.

“Public Health Spotlight.” _Vermont Department of Health_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

“Selective Service System: Welcome.” _Selective Service System: Welcome_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

“U.S. Office of Personnel Management – Www.OPM.gov.” _U.S. Office of Personnel Management_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

“2014 Stop Underage Drinking: Portal of Federal Resources.” _2014 Stop Underage Drinking: Portal of Federal Resources_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

“Protecting Youth.” _Protecting Youth_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

“2014 Stop Underage Drinking: Portal of Federal Resources.” _2014 Stop Underage Drinking: Portal of Federal Resources_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

“Accessibility Information.” _Programs_. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.

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