Minimum Legal Drinking Age

Do you believe the drinking age should be lowered to allow eighteen year olds to consume alcohol, or should the legal age to drink alcoholic beverages stay at the age of twenty-one? Prior to 1984 you were, once you turned eighteen, in most states permitted to purchase alcohol. It was completely up to the state government. At age 18 they are legally an adult, and can therefore abide by their own rules and if they make a bad decision they have to pay the price.

Why is it that as an adult you are permitted to purchase rifles, tobacco products, you can vote, enlist in the military, go to a casino, get a tattoo, body piercings, get married and even work in a bar but you can’t buy or consume alcohol?

When you think of alcohol and eighteen year-olds what generally pops into mind is underage drinking, binge drinking, wild parties and date rape. But that is only the view of the irresponsible side of drinking, just as there is an irresponsible side of drinking at age twenty-one.

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At age eighteen you should be allowed to purchase or consume alcohol as you please, because you are legally an adult and responsible for your own actions. The Minimum Legal Drinking Age should be lowered to age eighteen.

When you turn eighteen in the United States of America you are legally considered an adult. Until the 1984 Minimum Legal Drinking Age act you were allowed (at least in some states) to buy alcohol when you wanted.

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Subsequently to the passing of that law every state was forced to raise their minimum age to twenty-one. One of the men who voted for the 1984 Minimum Legal Drinking Age act, Morris E. Chafetz, stated that he “voted for it; it doesn’t work” and goes on to say that “it is the single most regrettable decision of my entire professional career”: “The reality is that at age 18 in this country, one is a legal adult. Young people view 21 as utterly arbitrary- which it is.

And because the explanation given is so condescending- because they lack maturity and judgment, these same people who can serve on juries and sign contracts and who turned out in overwhelming numbers to elect our first black president- well they dont buy it. And neither do I.” (Chafetz 554-555) The Unites States military is one of the largest in the world, and has many bases and various stations throughout the entire world. At the age of 18 you must (if you are male) sign up for selective service (the draft) and you are eligible to enlist in the military regardless of your gender. Why is it that you can deploy to another country, fight for your country, get shot, lose limbs and have the memories of that with you for the rest of your life, but you can’t purchase alcohol?

If you are old enough to risk your life to fight for your country and fight for the freedoms of this country then you should be able to go buy a beer at the bar with your buddies. Jeff Rainforth, a man who ran for congress, said that “Since the age was raised, many young adults have drunk more abusively than in the past. Like national Prohibition, it was been counter-productive. Raising the drinking age brought about more problems than it solved.” and went on to say that he recommends that is the legal drinking age was not lowered he recommends that military members can not go to combat until age 21. John McCardell, who founded and is now the director of an organization that exists to lower the drinking age back to eighteen, and also started the “Amethyst Initiative” talks about his solution to the problem.

McCardell has credibility on this topic due to the fact that he is a former college professor and president, and is now a vice-chancellor at the University of the South, who has personally seen the way teenagers on a college campus drink and has an idea what will help with this issue. He says “Alcohol education is what we need.” This would make teenagers aware of the harms of drinking alcohol and reduce the amount of binge drinking that goes on. Lowering the drinking age would teach teenagers moderation. If they are drinking in a controlled setting where they are allowed to drink and don’t have to hide it, they will be more likely to casually drink. McCardell says that the 1984 Minimum Legal Drinking Age law was “an abysmal failure; it hasn't reduced or eliminated drinking, it simply driven it underground, behind closed doors, into the most risky and least manageable of settings.”

In the “60 minutes” interview with CBS, the Boulder, Colorado Chief of Police, Mark Beckner is also an advocate for lowering the drinking age to eighteen. He says that “we can't stop it. The best we can do is try to contain it.” According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug use and Health, driving under the influence of alcohol was associated with age. The age group with the highest number of infractions(including wrecks) was the twenty-one to twenty-five year-old group at 23.4% of infractions being drunk/having been drinking as opposed to only 15.1% in the eighteen-twenty year-old group and a mere 5.8% in sixteen and seventeen year-olds.

As far as fatal crashes go, the highest percent of drunk drivers that were involved in a fatal car crash was the group of 21-24 year olds. 25-34 year olds came in at 30%, 35-44 at 24% and all fatal car crashes of individuals that were above age 44 and below age 21 was only 14%. Driving under the influence of alcohol was associated with age in 2010. The rate was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (23.4 percent). An estimated 5.8 percent of 16 or 17 year olds and 15.1 percent of 18 to 20 year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Beyond age 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age. Many other western have long had a much more lenient attitude toward alcohol and alcoholic beverages.

Many have set their Minimum Legal Drinking Age at 18, some at 16 and some do not even have a Minimum Legal Drinking Age. In many countries, such as Germany, there are very few drunk driving incidents whatsoever. In these countries parents often consume alcoholic beverages with their children, including beer or wine(in countries like France). By the time Europeans are allowed to drive they have been educated on the effects of alcohol and have been consuming alcohol for several years.

Safe alcohol consumption should the same way as safe sex practices and drivers education classes. No one us naïve enough to think that teenagers will practice abstinence to avoid sexual encounters only in order to avoid a sexually transmitted disease, so why are people foolish enough to believe that teens will avoid alcohol just due to it's dangers? Lowering the Minimum Legal Drinking Age will cause the teens who drink to rebel against their authorities to not drink as much due to it not being rebellious. Until a solution is agreed upon about whether the drinking age should be lowered, or stay at the age of 21, this will remain a controversial topic.

Using these strategies in this essay works well to effectively persuade every single viewer that underage drinking is in fact a problem, and is attributed to the current law not allowing people to buy or consume alcohol under the age of 21. Because of the problems that are created because of this current law, it would be in this country's best interest to lower the drinking age. This would prevent an increased number of alcohol related deaths due to underage binge drinking in the future. These are just a few of the reasons that the Minimum Legal Drinking Age act of 1984 should be repealed and the Minimum Legal Drinking Age should be at age 18.

Works Cited
Chafetz, Morris E. “The 21-Year-Old Drinking Age: I Voted For It; It Doesn’t Work.” Good Reasons With Contemporary Arguments. Eds. Lester Faigley and Jack Selzer. Boston: Longman, 2012. 554-555. Print McCardell, John. “A Drinking Age of 21 Doesn’t Work.” Good Reasons With Contemporary Arguments. Eds. Lester Faigley and Jack Selzer. Boston: Longman, 2012. 550-553. Print. “Issue in Focus: Drinking on College Campuses.” Good Reasons With Contemporary Arguments. Eds. Lester Faigley and Jack Selzer. Boston: Longman, 2012. 548-550. Print. CBSNews. (2010, March 01). The debate on lowering the drinking age. Retrieved from

Updated: Jan 18, 2023
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Minimum Legal Drinking Age. (2016, May 03). Retrieved from

Minimum Legal Drinking Age essay
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