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<<Back to Issue 2 Volume # 73
Read the Article

Got Alcohol?

By Jennifer Maurer '09

The drinking laws in the United States state that no person under the age of twenty-one can drink alcohol. What most people don’t know is that this law only recently came into existence on July 17, 1984. The law itself was pushed through by lobbyists from organizations such as MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Before the law, the drinking age was once determined by each individual state. During the 1980’s, the Federal government "blackmailed" the states into raising the drinking age to twenty one. The government signed a bill that required "all States to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 within 2 years or lose a portion of their Federal-aid highway funds."

In my opinion, the drinking age should be 18 just because that is when we, as American citizens, legally become adults. If we can go to war and die for our country and if we can vote in the presidential elections, then we can certainly be trusted to handle the responsibility that comes along with drinking alcoholic beverages.

The male teens of America can legally be required to fight and die for their country if the draft is put back into play like it was during the Vietnam War. Men and women can serve on a jury at eighteen and they have the power to change the face of the country with their votes. We are given so much responsibility when we turn eighteen that the fact that we are not trusted with alcohol discredits us as "adults."

The message we are getting across from the government is that "we will let them vote for who they want to be president but because we don’t trust them enough we won’t let them drink alcohol." America needs to come to its senses and realize that if we are legal adults then we should legally be allowed to drink alcohol. Not because it is a basic right offered in the Constitution but because we are legal adults who should be given the same rights and privileges as any other independent adult. When all’s said and done, what is the difference between an 18-year old and a 21-year old?

The age of drinking might have been raised because of deaths involved with drunk driving but if we are educated properly about alcohol, the amount of deaths (by drunk driving) will decrease. In most European countries, the drinking ages are eighteen and under; some countries don’t even have a drinking age but their young adults are being taught to not abuse their right to drink. For example, we don’t associate France or Italy as countries full of adolescent alcoholics.

The fact of the matter is that we need to be better educated about alcohol and healthy alcohol consumption whether through programs in our schools or just through what society teaches us (e.g. don’t be like Lindsay). If educating teens about safe sex and abstinence decreases the number of teens contracting STD’s and teen pregnancies, then we should educate more about safe alcohol consumption and the effects of wrong choices.

At the end of the day, people (no matter what their age may be) are going to drink alcohol. Underage drinking is something that is widespread throughout America and it will take place regardless of the laws, the age restrictions, and the zero tolerance policies. By introducing alcohol consumption at a younger age, it becomes less of a thing to do to have "fun and get drunk" and more of a social thing that no one would really care about. Restricting certain things simply makes those things more desirable, especially in the minds of young people. For example, the Prohibition in the United States did very little to help the country, in fact, it helped create a flourishing black market of alcoholic beverages. It led to racketeering and organized crime.

In the end, America needs to educate the teens today about alcohol and give them the responsibility to be allowed to drink once they are adults because after all if they can’t be trusted with alcohol then how can they be trusted to lead the country as the "future of America."