While doing research for this blog post, I came across a great video from the CBS news show 60 Minutes.This video is a debate on lowering the drinking age in the U.S. Both sides of the argument are presented well in the video. For example, if the drinking age were lowered, underage college students would probably be quicker to call for medical help when things get out of hand; however, it will likely do very little to make college students more knowledgeable and more responsible about alcohol abuse.
U.S. DRINKING AGE
The U.S. drinking age was originally raised in 1984 after the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed by President Ronald Reagan. Only eleven other countries have a minimum drinking age as high as the U.S. More than 80% of the world’s countries have a drinking age lower than 21. After prohibition in the rolling twenties, alcohol was re-legalized in the U.S. Then, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the legal drinking age was lowered to 18 in most states. This quickly resulted in an increase in drunk-driving and alcohol-related motor accidents. Reagan’s law resolved this problem to some extent as it decreased drunk driving accidents by about 50%. Countless debates, such as the one I linked to in the introduction, have persisted ever since. If you’re underage now, hopefully your luck won’t be as bad as Bad Luck Brian’s.
In many European countries (source), where the minimum drinking age is 18, a greater percentage of young people drink more frequently; however, the number of dangerous intoxication incidences that occur is much lower. In these countries with lower drinking ages, only about 10% of drinking occasions result in the person getting drunk. Conversely, in the U.S, when young people drink, about half of drinking incidences end in intoxication. Why does this happen? In low drinking age countries, parents are responsible for regulating the amount of alcohol their children consume. This helps young people get an idea of what alcohol does to them and how much they can handle before they go out to drink on their own. Young Americans do not get this opportunity because it is considered unethical (it’s slightly illegal…) to get alcohol for underage people.
I am not necessarily advocating for the drinking age to be reduced in this country; however, there are a lot of good arguments fighting for the case. If 18-year-olds can be in the military, vote, serve on jury duty, get married, and buy guns, why, then, are they not fit to purchase, or at least consume, alcohol? It has been argued, as I discussed in my my second blog post, that before the age of 21, your brain is still developing and alcohol can adversely affect it more so than it would an adult. Additionally, just like what happened in the ’60s when the drinking age was lowered, drunk driving incidents could increase significantly if 18-year-olds were once again legally allowed to drink. The argument can easily go both ways. I will end with this though. According to the Diamondback, the student newspaper at UMD, the UMD police department, and other college officials, are more concerned about irresponsible drinking, such as binge-drinking, than underage drinking.
What do you guys think the drinking age should be in the U.S.? Should it be lowered or stay the same?
*Source for featured image on cover