The Drinking Age Should Not Be Lowered

1710 words - 7 pages

We knocked on the door of the off-campus apartment, as it opened we were confronted with the heavy stench of alcohol. A young girl was passed out on the living room floor, a pile of empty beer cans filled the kitchen sink, and the deafening music rattled the window panes. A group of girls managed to stumble past us. They waved goodbye to the host, who was handing drinks to me and my sister. It was not my first time drinking. In fact, everyone there was quite experienced – after all, it’s college. Half of the guests were completely drunk, and I had no problem with it. That is, until later that night when my sister locked herself in a room with a guy she had met only a week before. This prompted me to seriously consider the effects of alcohol. Would my sister have been able to see the danger of the situation had she been sober? Would the absence of alcohol have prevented the events of that night from occurring? These questions, along with the vivid memory of that night, fueled my examination of the complex social problem of underage drinking.

In the 1960s, the drinking age was set as 21, to match the voting age. However, around the time of the Vietnam War, the public began to argue that if an 18-year-old was old enough to fight and die for his country, then he should be able to vote as well. As a result, the voting age was lowered to 18. Between 1970 and 1976, 29 states lowered their legal drinking age as well. In the words of Carla Main, author of Bulldozed and various other published works concerning law and society, the results were “catastrophic,” as “[h]ighway deaths among teenagers and young adults skyrocketed” (Main 33). Many states began raising the legal drinking age up again. In 1984, under the supervision of Ronald Reagan, the “21 Law” was passed (“The 21 Club” 26). This law demanded that all states raise their legal drinking age to 21; otherwise, they would lose 10% of their highway funds. Today, people are aware that the law does not stop underage drinking, as illustrated by the thousands of deaths resulting from excessive alcohol consumption by people below the age of 21. A group called the Amethyst Initiative is now pushing for the lowering of the drinking age to 18. Should the drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18, or would this have the same catastrophic results as in the 1970s?
My experiences in high school and college have taught me that restricting young people from drinking does not stop them from consuming alcohol. However, is this a good reason to lower the drinking age? People’s actions should conform to the law, as the purpose of laws is to maintain order in society. If the community could eliminate or alter laws simply by consistently breaking them, then legislation would become obsolete. Although the “21 law” does not completely prevent underage drinking, it has helped to reduce the number of incidents of underage drinking. Research studies conducted between 1960 and 1999 have been reviewed by University of...

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