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National Minimum Drinking Age Act Essay

The universal question; should the age for drinking be lowered? In my personal opinion, I believe that the drinking age should be lowered to eighteen from twenty one for various reasons. The legal drinking age is currently twenty-one, but the illegal drinking age is everything under. Why is the main question asked. Some people believe that twenty one is too high to be the minimum age to be able to legally drink and others feel that it is the perfect age. This topic is very huge and has been debated for years. The United States drinking age has gone up and down and in 1984, it went up to twenty one. Many events took place before the drinking age went up. It all began when the United States slowly tried to ban alcohol in every state for every person no matter what your age was.

They did succeed. This is called Prohibition. Prohibition started in 1919 and lasted until 1933. When Prohibition started, the Constitution gained the 18th Amendment. The 18th Amendment “prohibited the manufacture, sale, transport, import, or export of alcoholic beverages”. However, this amendment was removed in 1933 by the 21th amendment, which made beer and other alcohol legal. Once Prohibition ended, each state created their own set of drinking laws. Some were twenty one; others were eighteen, and then some in between. This lasted for a few years, but then the Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 came along. This act forced all states to change their drinking age to twenty one or lose part of the Federal-aid highway funds.

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It also said the states should pass laws that helped fight drunk driving. So, the drinking ages were set to twenty one, but this can change. Prohibition and safety issues, like underground drinking, are all factors that must be considered in making this decision. Because of these factors, the national drinking age of the United States should be lowered from twenty one to eighteen.

Think for a moment on how many young adult or teenagers illegally drink underage. It is a fact that more than three in four teenagers consume alcohol when they are high school seniors. A big issue for underage drinking is where the underage drinkers actually do the drinking. It is known to people that underage drinking goes on, but where and when they do it, is something to look for. Because no one wants to get in trouble for drinking, those who are underage start taking part in “underground drinking”.

Underground drinking is when people under the drinking age drink alcohol without the knowledge of anyone. People will bring alcohol anywhere, like a party, and drink it without their parents knowing. The police search for underage drinking, but, even they know that once the underage drinkers are caught, they will keep doing it. The difference is that this time, they will be smarter about it and hide it better than the time before. “We’d find a party where we know there’s underage drinking. We would seal the house. Surround the house with officers…We wrote hundreds and hundreds of tickets those years. All we did is we pushed it further underground.” (Mark Beckner, the chief of police in Boulder, Colo.)

The problem with drinking without anyone knowing can be very dangerous and someone could get seriously sick from alcohol poisoning, or go completely out of control and hurt themselves. If people under the drinking age hide when they drink, they will not want to tell anyone like an adult because they do not want to get in trouble. So, if no one wants to get in trouble, then no one will tell anyone if someone gets seriously sick. There are cases in which people have died because their friends who they were drinking with were afraid of the police. As a result, it took a couple hours for anyone to say anything, and by the time they did, it was too late to really do anything. “…a college freshman, Gordie Bailey, who died of alcohol poisoning during a fraternity celebration.

The fraternity members left him on a couch for 9 hours before someone called 911. He died because, according to Gordie’s parents, the other college kids were too scared to call for help because the drinking was underage.” A lesson can be learned through this event and all the others just like it. If people under twenty one were more supervised, then adults could stop those who are drinking from getting hurt or be there to make sure they get help. It is very difficult to completely stop underage drinking, but we could work against it. If the drinking age was lowered, then there can be more supervision.

Young adults at the age of eighteen generally go to college where there is a lot of alcohol usage. Perhaps if the drinking age was eighteen, those underage drinkers would not hide and be controlled by the police and therefore, stay much safer. Prohibition took place in the 1850s for certain states and the 1920s for the entire country. Prohibition was the time when the whole county, every age, was banned from drinking. Prohibition was supposed to lower crime and corruption, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, solve social problems, and make the health and hygiene in America better.

At first, alcohol consumption lowered, but as time went by, it increased once more. Of course, everything they were trying to fix or lower went higher and out of control. “Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became “organized”; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant…Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending.” (Mark Thornton, O. P. Alford III Assistant Professor of Economics at Auburn University.”) People also did drugs because of the lack of alcohol. Just think if that didn’t take place, then these dangerous things wouldn’t have happened. However, we did learn from it.

For instance, we learned that banning it didn’t work. The alcohol consumption grew during Prohibition to “about 60-70 percent of its pre Prohibition level,” then slowly dropped to 70 percent, but after Prohibition ended, the alcohol consumption went from 70 percent to 40 percent. The reason it went up is because people were protesting. Basically, the Prohibition didn’t completely stop the use of alcohol, it just made things worse. Since the alcohol is banned from those under twenty one, people under twenty one are drinking more, so moving the drinking age down to eighteen would definitely work. As always, there are those who disagree with lowering the drinking age back to eighteen. They feel that twenty one is the proper age to start to take part drinking.

People feel that those underage of twenty one can’t handle alcohol and tend to not know when to stop. One reason is that they become drunk more quickly than adults and adults don’t become dunk as often. There are also facts that state how many lives have been save and how many less accidents there have been. It is true that the number of fatal car accidents have decreased by thirteen percent for those between the ages of eighteen and twenty. That decrease saved about 21,887 people between the years 1975-2002. Others believe that the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) can hurt the student’s academic career and also cause him or her to become an alcoholic easier. There are also some people who are afraid that they will become more venerable to do certain things.

For example, young adults might be more likely to become involved in drug abuse, depression, unplanned or unprotected sex, violence, and other social ills if they drink. Also, people are worried about driving because, Americans drive more than Europeans who have a drinking age of sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen. On the other side, there are those people who want and are pro lowering the drinking age to eighteen. One reason is that people won’t get much of a thrill about drinking if they are used to being able to do it. Eventually, drinking alcohol will start to get normal and will not feel as important anymore. Besides, it is all about how responsible that person is. Anyone over or under the drinking age can drinking too much and end up hurting themselves.

People also must consider the fact that underage drinking does go on, and it goes on unsupervised. If the drinking age is lowered, then those who aren’t supervised can be. Prohibition and safety issues, like underground drinking are truly good reasons to consider lowering the drinking age to eighteen. This topic has truly been discussed for years. People are either for lowering it, against it, or just do not know.

But there are surly plenty of facts for the pro and con sides. To make the right decision, one must look at the history. As learned from history, banning alcohol only made things worse. Then, if one looked at how underground drinking could kill people if others around are too afraid to call 911 and risk getting in trouble, they should realize that if people were more supervised and didn’t have to hide, then those unfortunate events wouldn’t happen. The choice is simple. Lowering the drinking age to eighteen can be safer.


G., Harold, Wyoming, and MI. “Drinking Age Should Be Lowered | Teen Essay on Drugs | Teen Ink.” Teen Ink | A teen literary magazine and website. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <http://teenink.com/opinion/drugs_alcohol_smoking/article/48104/Drinking-Age-Should-Be-Lowered/>. Engs, Ruth C.. “Why the drinking age should be lowered: An opinion based upon research .” Why the drinking age should be lowered: An opinion based upon research . N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/articles/cqoped.html >. “National Youth Rights Association » Legislative Analysis of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.” National Youth Rights Association . N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2011. <http://www.youthrights.org/research/library/legislative-analysis-of-the-national-minimum-drinking-age-act/>. “Should the drinking age be lowered from 21 to a younger age?.” Drinking Age ProCon.org . N.p., n.d. Web. 27

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