The Two Sides of the Legal Drinking Age Argument

Today, Carpenter and Dobkin (133) posit that the legal drinking age in the United States of America stands at twenty-one years. As such, it is illegal for not only anyone under that age to consume alcohol, but also for anyone to sell alcohol to persons under the age of twenty-one. Resultantly, this policy has provided one of the most heated debates in the U.S in recent times. That is to say that there are proponents and opponents stating their views concerning the policy.

The proponents have been busy outlining the reasons for not lowering the legal drinking age from twenty-one to eighteen years.

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On the other hand, opponents have also outlined their reasons as to why they believe that lowering the age would serve the American society in a better fashion. Therefore, our paper seeks to provide a detailed analysis of the two sides and make an informed decision as to why everyone should oppose the lowering of the legal drinking age to eighteen years.

In the real sense, proponents advocating the noncompliance in lowering the legal drinking age have been citing the numerous harms that have befallen our youths as a result of their indulgence in alcoholism. Realistically, research has proven that the number of traffic crash injuries have increased in areas where the authorities have lowered the legal drinking age. For instance, we may view the happenings that followed when New Zealand reduced the minimum drinking age from the 20-year bracket to 18 years of age. In this case, let us take an example of the study done by Kypros and his team 2006.

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The team embarked on a study to determine whether the number of traffic crash injuries had reduced since the lowering of the minimum drinking age in 1999 by using participants aged between 15 years and 19 years. Resultantly, they found out that the crash rate of alcohol-related accidents had increased by 12% among young men. Similarly, their female counterparts had experienced an increase of around 51%. According to Kypros et al. (126), all these cases lead to hospitalization of the victims.

Additionally, it is important to note that alcoholism leads to other bodily harms that go beyond the physical harms as evidenced by research. For instance, Carpenter and Dobkin (134) claims that proponents of maintaining the legal drinking age have quoted the numerous physical harms that are related to the consumption of alcohol. For instance, the authors quote a study where the participants were individuals aged between 18 years and 25 years. These individuals are said to have taken high levels of alcohol that can only be classified using the terms heavy episodic or binge drinking. Typically, it is worth noting that heavy drinking leads to increased blood alcohol concentrations. For instance, Carpenter and Dobkin state that the act of taking five drinks by anyone with 160 pounds of weight would make the blood alcohol concentration be around 0.12% (Carpenter and Dobkin 134). As a result, such a person would experience moderate impairments in his or her reaction time, coordination, depth perception, peripheral vision, reflexes, and concentration. Thus, we must all protect our children from such Occurrences.

Lastly, individuals opposed to the idea of lowering the legal drinking age have always cited the high percentage of deaths that are associated with driving while drunk. The deaths have been the primary reason as to why many countries have implemented the minimum drinking age policies in their territories. According to Kypros et al. (127), the occurrence of a road traffic crash that involves an automobile result in the hospitalization or death of a person. In this case, we may take the study done by Carpenter and Dobkin. To start with, these authors have proposed that approximately 67% of the deadly motor vehicle accidents that occur in the evenings are related to alcohol consumption while nearly a quarter of the daytime accidents also involve alcohol. The study shows that the number of deaths related to nighttime accidents among individuals aged between 18 and 20 years has reduced substantially since the state increased the minimum drinking age (Carpenter and Dobkin 138). Consequently, it is wiser to maintain the minimum drinking age at 21 years as opposed to lowering it.

However, we should not assume that this is an outright decision that has to be made as evidenced by the claims that have been raised by the opponents of the twenty-one-year policy. For example, the antagonists have claimed that one of the core benefits that would result from lowering the legal drinking age includes the realization that the statistics of binge drinking would decrease. Additionally, these persons have suggested that the urge to consume alcohol would also lessen. In simple terms, critics of this policy have been citing the fact that binge drinking has been experienced on all campuses around the world. It has become a norm in campuses for the students to drink alcohol aiming at deliberately getting drunk. Some youths even claim that consuming alcohol is no longer sweet after attaining the legal age.

On the contrary, the critics should note that lowering the legal age is not the solution. Kypros, Gabrielle, and McElduff (1400) asserts that lowering the legal drinking age to 18 years would only serve to increase the population of legal purchasers into the education or rather school system. Such a view is correct because we all know that approximately half of the student population in their final high school year tends to turn 18 during the same year. As a result, it is important for us to know that the younger schoolmates would be attracted to the idea of having one or two sips of this magic drink. Thus, it would be utterly surprising to all of us if the individuals who have attained the age of eighteen years do not engage in the act of supplying alcohol to their friends who are yet to attain the age. In short, this is to mean that there is a high likelihood that the persons who attain the age first will become the suppliers of alcohol and later other illegal substances to their younger friends.

Conclusively, we should all note that the consumption of alcohol is a privilege as opposed to being a right in the modern world. As such, the authorities in the United States of America have seen it fit to formulate and implement a policy that places the legal drinking age at twenty-one years. To most of us, this seems like a fair age as evidenced by the numerous volumes of statistics that show the intake of alcohol as being undesirable. More so, there are more volumes of materials that have documented the importance of placing the legal drinking age at twenty-one years besides recommending noncompliance in regards to lowering the age. Proponents of not lowering the legal drinking age have provided a more swaying evidence by claiming that today's youths lack the ability to behave in a responsible manner. As such, it is innocuous to say that their continued use of alcohol at a tender age would harm the entire society more than it would serve to strengthen or build it (Kypros, Gabrielle and McElduff 1400).

Updated: Mar 18, 2023
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The Two Sides of the Legal Drinking Age Argument. (2023, Mar 18). Retrieved from

The Two Sides of the Legal Drinking Age Argument essay
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