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Changing the Minimun Legal Drinking Age in the United States Essay Example for Free
Changing the Minimun Legal Drinking Age in the United States Essay Over the past twenty years the minimum legal drinking age has been twenty-one in all US states, but that has not stopped citizens of the United Sates from attempting to lower the age. Following the end of prohibition in the United Sates during the Great Depression, all states agreed on a set of twenty-one to be the legal drinking age. For almost forty years there was no change in the drinking age until a decrease in the age for voting occurred. This led to the gradual decrease of the minimum legal drinking age to somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty among twenty-one states. Recent data collected by Henry Wechsler and Toben F. Nelson, both of which obtain either a PhD/ScD, show that over many efforts from legislation have been presented with bills that argue to lower the minimum age, but none have been passed (986). This subject has and always will be a well discussed issue among Americans, youth, and adults until they are satisfied with the outcome. Legislation should lower the minimum legal drinking age to eighteen in the United States due to the fact that it should be consistent with all other legal rights that one acquires at age eighteen. As supporters of lowering the minimum legal drinking age argue that the age of drinking should be persistent with other legal rights such as voting, buying tobacco products, and serving their country. Statistics say the youth of today have had their first taste of alcohol by the time they are twenty-one, so that can only mean that they have participated in underage drinking (Barnett 8). This is considered breaking the law and one would go to jail if reported or if discovered by authorities unless there was an exception. That brings me to the amount of exceptions to the minimum legal drinking age in the United States. Over eight different exceptions are active in the States this year that excuse the act of underage drinking such as religious purposes, medical purposes, educational purposes, and with parental consent (40 States 468). These exceptions let anyone under parental consent or on private property legally drink without questioning them. Other people may see these exceptions as a sufficient way to only let minors drink under the careful eye of adults, but these adults that are supposed to be carefully watching these minors could easily slip up. I believe that the exceptions of minors drinking on private property with or without parental consent should not be excused. Does drinking at home mean you are not able to climb into a car and drive under the influence? These exceptions also lead to the thought of the Zero Tolerance Law not being enforced vigorously which leads to teenagers taking the Law as a joke. Many people that oppose the lowering of the minimum legal drinking age do not realize the effectiveness of the age being lowered to eighteen. These viewers see the youth as forever irresponsible and should not be trusted with anything. If the youth was taught to drink in moderation and not binge drink, changing the minimum legal drinking age would not be so risky. Barnett, a professor at Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, suggests that if the youth is aware of the risks of alcohol they may drink with more caution (8). Prohibiting teens from drinking in public location such as bars, restaurants, and clubs has forced them to drink in unsupervised places. Fraternity/sorority houses, friendÃ¢â¬â¢s houses, and other secret locations are places that teens turn to to be able to drink without getting in trouble. If the drinking age was lowered then teens would be allowed to drink in healthy and supervised environments that in turn teach them to be cautious of the am ount of alcohol obtained. When the age eighteen comes along it is assumed to be the year of adulthood which means taking on many responsibilities such as the right to vote, getting married, and joining the military. Joining the military includes taking the risk of losing your life. I believe making the decision to fight for your country entitles you to the right of being able to make any life decision on your own, even the decision about alcohol consumption. If one is charged with a crime then the eighteen year old is no longer tried in juvenile court; he is tried as an adult. In reality, an eighteen, nineteen, and twenty year old can do just about everything that a twenty-one year old can do, except legally consume alcohol. Who is to say that en eighteen, nineteen, or twenty-year old is not mature enough to properly consume alcohol? Previous research suggests that when there is a more strenuous alcohol policy there will be lower alcohol abuse and consumption among teens (Grube, Kypri, and Paschall 1850). This actually causes teens to feel the need to rebel instead of the thought of teens abusing the privilege. This is a rather immature personality trait to have as a teenager, but there might actually be a reduction in drinking because teens are no longer being rebellious and breaking the law. The whole point of Ã¢â¬Å"becoming an adultÃ¢â¬ is to give them the ability to take responsibility for their own actions, so why should we not let them? In the United Sates, statistics show that the consumption of alcohol by minors has decreased in the last twenty years, but the consumption of alcohol by adults ages twenty-one through twenty-four have increased (Wechsler and Nelson 987). Waiting until you are twenty-one to legally drink is causing adults to binge drink without thinking of the consequences. With decreasing the minimum legal drinking age in the United States, adults (age eighteen) will be able to pace themselves and learn at a younger age the risks of drinking uncontrollably. By the time that age twenty-one rolls around for an adult, the dangers of binge drinking may have already harmed them. It is all about learning early and discovering the consequences, dangers, and limits to drinking so that bad habits will not be formed during later adulthood years. Henry Wechsler and Toben F. Nelson state that seventy-nine studies were conducted to relate the drinking age and traffic fatalities (988). Although, none of the studies conducted related fewer crashes with a lower minimum drinking age, but related a higher drinking age with fewer traffic fatalities, Ã¢â¬Å"the minimum legal drinking age does not save livesÃ¢â¬ (Wechsler and Toben 988). The choice to save lives relies on the person being held accountable. Underage drinking going on at a house party has more guests committing the crime of drunk driving rather than going out to the bar to have a drink. These eighteen year old adults have to turn to secretly drinking and risking getting arrested because they have not reached the age of twenty-one yet. If an eighteen year old was able to go out with his family to a restaurant and consume alcohol, then he would not be committing two crimes-underage drinking and drinking while driving. I do not believe that being able to legally drink and traffic fatalities correspond any more than illegal drinking and traffic fatalities because anyone, no matter the age, can get into a car under the influence without thinking twice. The minimum legal drinking age is just another cause for breaking the law and possibly putting someoneÃ¢â¬â¢s life in danger besides your own. Being at the age of eighteen one is not permitted to legally purchase alcohol and according to Wechsler and NelsonÃ¢â¬â¢s article in American Journal, evidence supports that by lowering the minimum legal drinking age there will be an increase in the consumption of alcohol (990). Few would say that giving eighteen year olds the ability to purchase alcohol will lead to the increase in drinking which in turn would cause danger and harm to others. If that was to be true, then would there not be an increase in consumption at age twenty-one now? Should that cause for a raise in the legal drinking age? If one is able to purchase and consume alcohol that is their right. No one should be in control of someone elseÃ¢â¬â¢s life or their life choices. Whatever the minimum legal drinking age may be, there will always be an increase in the purchase of alcohol because before that time they are unable to buy it. Just because there is an increase does not mean that there will be an increase in ha rm or negative consequences. In conclusion, many points of the support to keep the minimum legal drinking age of twenty-one are understandable, but I cannot agree with the overall argument. Adults, teens, youth, and seniors will drink at whatever age they may want to whether it is illegal or not. The minimum legal drinking age is one of the only things that adults at the age of eighteen are unable to do simply because they are seen as not mature enough to handle the responsibility. If one is capable of deciding who they want to lead our country, serve for our country, and get married and begin a life with another person, then I believe there should be no reason that they are not able to make responsible decisions about the consumption of alcohol. America can only protect the youth so much until they start to rebel and take things into their control. Work Cited Barnett, Nancy P. Ã¢â¬Å"The Minimum Drinking Age Debate.Ã¢â¬ Date: The Brown University Digest of Addiction Theory Application 27.11 (2008): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2012. Print. Paschall, Mallie J., Joel W. Grude, and Kypros Kypri. Ã¢â¬Å"Alcohol Control Policies And Alcohol Consumption By Youth: A Multi-National Study.Ã¢â¬ Addiction 104.11 (2009): 1844-1855. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. Print. ProCon.org. 40 States That Allow Underage (under 21) Alcohol Consumption. DrinkingAge.ProCon.org. ProCon.org, 3 Aug. 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2012. Saylor, Drew K. Ã¢â¬Å"Heavy Drinking On College Campuses: No Reason To Change Minimum Legal Drinking Age of 21.Ã¢â¬ Journal of American College Health 59.4 (2011): 330-333. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov 2012. Print. Wechsler, Henry, and Toben F. Nelson. Ã¢â¬Å"Will Increasing Alcohol Availablity By Lowering The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Decrease Drinking And Related Consequences Among Youths?Ã¢â¬ American Journal of Public Health 100.6 (2010): 986-992. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Nov 2012. Print.