Drinking alcohol allows many people to unwind after an extensive, stressful day at work, while others conduct it just for pleasure. Unfortunately, some of these people are young adults and according to the law it is unlawful for juveniles under 21 to obtain and drink alcohol. This matter has spawned numerous disputes on whether the consumption age should be lowered to 18. Many people deem that keeping the drinking age at 21 helps save countless lives, but others argue that changing the drinking age to 18 would depreciate underage drinking. In fact, the drinking age of 21 is a very restrictive law that does not effectively prevent underage drinking in the United States, but through education about moderation and instances of handling alcohol responsibly, the drinking age can be lowered to 18 without fear.
Ultimately, “from 1920–1933, alcohol was prohibited in the United States. Known as Prohibition, the manufacturing, sale, and transportation of alcohol during this period was illegal” (Minimum Drinking Age). Of course, a multitude people did not abide by the rules and established speakeasies, which were underground drinking saloons. Frequently, these saloons provided a sense of security for civilians who wanted to enjoy and consume alcoholic beverages without getting caught by the authorities. Unfortunately, many citizens were caught and a mass of speakeasies was closed down, yet others prevailed until the end of Prohibition. No doubt, this behavior seen over eighty years ago may be linked to the behavior seen now among teenagers and young adults.
After Prohibition was repealed, it was left up to the states to decide how to govern alcohol consumption. Most states made 21 the legal drinking age, although a handful required drinkers to be only 18. No national drinking age existed until 1984, when the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed. (Hoyt)
Initially, “the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 prompted states to raise their legal age for purchase or public possession of alcohol to 21 or risk losing millions in federal highway funds” (Ziskind). As a result, the NMDAA was passed because of “the increase in deaths related to drunk driving”. In addition, a mother, Candy Lightner, founded the MADD a.k.a. Mothers Against Drunk Driving after her daughter was hit by a drunk driver in 1980 (Hoyt).
No doubt, drinking age should not just be lowered and left for teenagers to figure out drinking on their own. In fact, a better approach is suggested by John McCardell in Lesley Stahl’s “Drinking Age Debate” video where he proposes:
Alcohol education is what we need and that is a very important part of that proposal and by that I don’t mean temperance lectures, and I don’t mean prohibition, nor do I mean encouragement to drink. What [I] mean is mandatory classes in high school that would include the chemistry of alcohol, the physical consequences of abuse, and sitting in on AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] sessions.