The minimum drinking age was raised in 1984 when the United States Congress approved the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which made it illegal for anyone to consume alcohol under the age of eighteen. Reasons for raising the drinking age were the high public concern over the increasing number of teenage related car accidents that were occurring in the states which had lowered the drinking age to eighteen during the Vietnam War. Additionally, while there are many rights that are protected by the Constitution of the United States, alcohol consumption is not considered one of them. By placing an age limit on alcohol consumption, the government is only trying to protect the people of the United States and make sure that alcohol is consumed as safely and responsibly as possible.
Ever since the 1984 passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, driving and road safety has steadily increased. Accidents caused by drunk driving tend to occur between the place wherever an individual was drinking and their home. The administration for National Traffic Highway Safety has reported that teenage driving fatalities related to alcohol have decreased by about sixty-two percent (Trex). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a survey in 2009 that revealed that the percentage of drivers on the weekend who had a blood alcohol concentration of at least .08 or higher had decreased by 3.2% from 1986 to 2007 (National Highway Administration, July 2009). Since there is an undeniable correlation between having a lower minimum drinking age and higher rates of crime and traffic fatalities that are related to alcohol consumption, the minimum drinking age in the United States should stay at the age of at least twenty-one to ensure that substance abuse and crimes related to alcohol consumption do not increase again.
Another one of the biggest issues relating to determining what the legal drinking age is responsibility. Eighteen-year-olds lack the necessary maturity and life experience to be able to exercise good judgment and drink responsibly. Furthermore, there are many studies that reveal that drinking alcohol while the brain is still developing can have a negative impact on its development and subsequently lead to a lot of abuse later in life (DeWitt). Additionally, alcohol is considered a gateway drug because its use, especially during teen years where individuals are highly susceptible to peer pressure, is associated with an increased likelihood for users to eventually try other more dangerous illicit substances, such as cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. Research data about alcohol consumption around the world report that all of the countries in Europe that permit the consumption of alcohol below the legal drinking age of twenty-one in the United States have significantly higher rates of intoxication evident in their youth (Friese). In some counties, alcohol consumption is so saturated in the culture that it has become prone to overindulgence by the youth population.
Therefore, it is in the best interest of American society to ensure that the drinking age stays at age twenty-one. Lowering the drinking age to eighteen only increases the risk of many severely negative consequences, which have the potential to ruin individual lives and the whole of society. Drinking at an earlier age, especially during the teenage years only hinders the development of the brain and contributes to increased abuse of drugs and alcohol later in life. Not to mention, teenagers are not yet mature enough to drink alcohol responsibly and have the tendency to involve themselves in dangerous situations. Furthermore, there are far too many proven correlations between alcohol consumption by younger members of the population and increased rates of crime and traffic fatalities. Thus, there is no logical reason that the drinking age should be lowered, as it has no conceivable benefits to individuals or American society.
DeWit, David J., Edward M. Adlaf, David R. Offord, and Alan C. Ogborne. "Age at First . Alcohol Use: A Risk Factor for the Development of Alcohol Disorders." The American . Journal of Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association, 1 May 2000. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=174111>.
Friese, Bettina and Joel W. Grube. "Youth Drinking Rates and Problems: A Comparison of European Countries and the United States," Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, . 2010
"Results of the 2007 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers," National . Highway Traffic Safety Administration, July 2009
Trex, Ethan. "Why Is the Drinking Age 21?" The Week. The Week Publications, Inc, 18 . Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Apr. 2013. <http://theweek.com/article/index/238974/why-is-the-. drinking-age-21>.