Legal Drinking Age 21 Does More Harm Than Good
Monday, January 10, 2011
Did you know that almost every country has a minimum drinking age of 18, if they even have one at all. Did you also know that the minimum drinking age in the United States was always 18 until 1984? The law almost didn't pass because there was a very heated fight in Congress over passing this law and it mostly came into effect due to the lobbying efforts of Candy Lightner and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving organization (MADD).
If the underlying rationale of legal 21 is to keep young adults safe, it fails miserably. Pre-Gaming is a common term on college campuses, where 18-20 year olds consume large amounts of alcohol quickly for they know they can not legally have a drink once they go out. This is the cause of all kinds of alcohol poisonings and deaths, and is far from teaching responsible use of alcohol.
When I was in college, bars were a convenient place to go and hang out with friends at night. Some of us drank a lot and some barely at all. It was just a place where a large group could go and meet up. Now, many college students, want to get together and hang out in this atmosphere but to do so they have resorted to obtaining fake I.D.s Before 9/11 this was not such a terrible offense. However, the use of fake I.D.s has now been tied to terrorists, so anyone caught using one could face criminal charges. Why are we turning our kids into criminals?
College campuses used to have bars right on campus. No driving was required. The new drinking age has closed down college campus bars and forced students to drive off campus to be able to drink. How does that help prevent drunk driving? And teens that live at home hide their drinking from their parents, which prevents parents from helping if their child is in trouble.
And isn't this law a clear example of age discrimination. The United States has considered anyone 18 years and older an adult for a long time now. How can a group that can marry, vote, enter into contracts, fight in a war and legally buy guns, not be legally allowed to buy alcohol or go to a bar? During the Senate confirmation hearings for the minimum drinking age law, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. exclaimed, "Why the magic age of 21? Why not 25? How about 30, 35, 40?"
What if a study was done that showed that a higher percentage of people from a minority group caused a larger amount of drunk driving accidents? Could a law ever be passed, much less suggested, that made it illegal for, say, women or Asians to drink? Why is it okay to discriminate this way against only this one group of adults?
However, the most troubling part of legal 21 is that a law which is UNIFORMLY ignored breeds disrespect and contempt for all law. Young adults should not pick and chose which laws to obey and which can be ignored, yet an entire generation has learned to do just that.
There are so many better ways to help prevent drunk driving than a discriminatory law. How about more education on the dangers of drinking and driving throughout high school and college? How about tougher laws for those of every age that get caught driving drunk? To learn more about this issue, see the Choose Responsibility website, a non-profit organization organized by President Emeritus John M. McCardell Jr. of Middlebury College and the Robertson Foundation.
This is not about advocating drinking. And I am as against drinking and driving as anyone, if not more. I just think that these problems are not going to be resolved by discriminating against a small group that is not represented in Congress. We have to crack down on drunk driving in other ways. Please stop turning our youth into criminals when all they want is to have the same rights that almost everyone 18 and older around the world has, and what their parents had when they were 18.
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