The term drinking age, or legal drinking age, refers to the earliest age at which a person can legally consume alcoholic beverages in the said jurisdiction. This differs from country to country and at times, state to state.
As of today, the legal age for consumption of alcohol in the United States is 21 years (since 1984). The administration is having a tough time deciding if it should be lowered, as people supporting the move and those opposing it continue to battle each other with attacks and counter-attacks.
Should the Drinking Age be Lowered from 21 to 18?
A person is considered a responsible adult when he turns 18, whereby he gets several rights and responsibilities, including the right to vote, get married, and drive. When an 18-year old individual can be trusted with all these responsibilities, why shouldn't he be trusted with alcohol?
People supporting this move also make it a point to highlight the fact that individuals in the age group of 18 - 20, who are not allowed to drink legally, get involved in binge drinking every time they lay their hands on alcoholic beverages.
They further add that the prohibition of alcohol consumption for individuals in this age group in public places makes them indulge in alcohol consumption in unsupervised places, thus making them more vulnerable.
These people are of the opinion that if the age is lowered to 18, individuals will get to drink in moderation without being afraid of law, or having to resort to binge drinking in unsupervised places.
Furthermore, some people argue that such regulations are unconstitutional, as they discriminate against a particular age group.
People who feel that the legal age for drinking should be lowered also make it a point to highlight the failed attempt to prohibit alcohol consumption in 1920, which―according to them―in itself suggests that such regulations are not effective in the modern society.
No! It Shouldn't be Lowered
Those who oppose the idea of lowering it, on the other hand, have their own reasons to do so. They argue that such a move will make teenagers prone to alcohol addiction in the future. They also highlight studies which reveal that drinking alcohol at a young age hampers the development of brain, which, in turn, results in adverse effects on their academics.
People who oppose the move of lowering the drinking age also have a substantial amount of statistical evidence to support their arguments. They often highlight the fact that implementation of the same in Michigan and Massachusetts increased the number of car crashes involving drivers in the age group of 18 - 20 by a significant margin.
On the other hand, ever since the drinking age has been raised from 18 to 21, the number of fatal accidents involving drivers in this age group has come down by 13 percent.
People opposing this move also argue that the norms followed in the European nations cannot be followed in the United States, as―unlike their European counterparts―American teenagers start driving at a very young age.
Lastly, today's teenagers are being subjected to a highly volatile environment on various fronts, which makes them prone to alcohol consumption. This also increases their vulnerability to other types of substance abuse which are much more hazardous than alcohol.
Even after taking the pros and cons of this move into consideration, one finds it difficult to come up with a concrete opinion about it. In such circumstances, the onus is on both these sides to indulge in proper discussion and come up with a concrete plan to curb alcohol-related accidents and binge drinking in youths and teenagers.
Educating them is by far the most convenient way of spreading awareness about the hazards of drunk drinking, binge drinking, alcohol abuse, etc. Drinking in moderation once in a while shouldn't be problem, if the individual is responsible enough to know what he is up to.