The proposal of lowering the legal age for drinking from 21 to 18 has sparked off yet another debate in the U.S. Join us as we evaluate the pros and cons of the same to find out how it will affect the society.
In July 2008, around a hundred college presidents came together on a common platform, the Amethyst Initiative, and argued that the drinking age should be lowered from 21 to 18. Though the movement has garnered vast support from people who think that the existing age limit is not at all working, there are quite a few people who think that it is fine and hence, should not be lowered.
Legal Drinking Age
The legal drinking age is the minimum age at which an individual is allowed to purchase alcohol in a particular jurisdiction. In the United States, it is 21 as per the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Also referred to as the Federal Uniform Drinking Age Act, this legislation came into existence on July 17, 1984, with the aim of reducing the number of highway fatalities attributed to drunk drinking. The Act states that it is illegal for an individual below the age of 21 years to purchase or possess any kind of alcoholic beverage in public. The Amethyst Initiative is demanding that the legal age for drinking be further lowered to 18 years. The movement initiated by John McCardell of the non-profit organization called Choose Responsibility, has the support of around a 135 college presidents.
Pros And Cons
Though it may sound reasonable, amending the Act and lowering the legal drinking age has its own share of problems. The debate has been going on for quite some time now and both the sides have armed themselves with several pros and cons of doing so, thus making it difficult to come to a consensus.
Those in support of this change believe that individuals who are legally allowed to vote and get married, can be responsible when it comes to drinking. They also argue that the existing laws have resulted in youths consuming alcohol in hiding, which has resulted in excessive underage drinking. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 85% of twenty-year-olds in America had consumed alcoholic beverages at some point of time. In order to highlight the failure of the law to curb drinking, those in support of lowering the drinking age put forth a simple argument. The fact that individuals are not allowed to possess alcohol in public places makes them drink as much as possible before moving out of their house. If the drinking age is lowered, they won’t have to do that. In contrast, individuals will themselves realize the importance of living up to the expectations.
Those who are against this idea feel that the law is meant to save lives and it is serving the purpose. Statistics reveal that restraining people in the age group of 18 to 20 from drinking has reduced the number of highway fatalities in this age group by 13%. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that bringing down the drinking age from 21 to 18 will increase the number of fatalities related to drunk driving by 10%. Consequences of underage drinking are not only restricted to fatalities caused by drunk driving, a number of sexual assaults and campus crimes are also attributed to excessive drinking at a young age, and lowering it further will just increase these problems.
The demand, which initially came from libertarian organizations, has now garnered support from academicians as well, and that has proved to be a major boost for the cause. However, its pros and cons cannot be ignored. The need for the hour is a logic-driven consensus. It is even more important that the youth should live up to the expectations and ensure that they take the responsibility when it comes to alcohol consumption.