Lowering The Drinking Age

POSITION: Although many people feel that the drinking age should be lower to 18, nevertheless since the drinking age was raised to 21 the number of drinking related deaths have decreased, because responsibility comes with age.

SUPPORTING ARGUMENTS: The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed into law on July 17,1984 by President Reagan. Although the Act itself did not change the drinking age to 21, it strongly encouraged it. The Act strongly encouraged states to raise their minimum drinking age by with holding a portion of Federal-aid highway funds from states without laws that prohibited the purchase and possession of alcoholic beverages by any individual under the age of 21. The Act was implemented on March 26,1986 when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration published a joint final rule that implemented the act. The District of Columbia and all 50 states have enacted age 21 drinking laws.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act has been one of the most effective pieces of legislation ever. The estimated 8,438 lives have been saved between 1985 and 1993. “The Government Accounting Office concluded in 1987 that when the drinking age was raised that the number of alcohol-related car crashes and alcohol consumption decreased.” That same study when on to further conclude “when the drinking age was decreased the number of alcohol related car crashes and consumption of alcohol went up.”

Billions in property and economic costs have also been saved since the Act was enacted. In 1993 alone the minimum drinking age laws saved an estimated $1.8 billion.

Every time someone gets injured when their drunk, calls out of work because they are hung over, or injures someone else while they are drunk costs companies lots of money and a loss in productivity.

Since the Act was passed the number of DWI (driving while intoxicated) related accidents and DWI convictions has dropped, even though the allowable percentage of alcohol in the blood has been decreased drastically. Deaths related to drunk driving have dropped 31%, since 1982. In 1982 25,165 people were killed in alcohol related traffic accidents. In the same year 57% of all traffic fatalities were linked to alcohol use. In 1993, 9 years after the Act was signed the number of drunk driving related deaths had dropped to 17,461, which was about a 70% decrease. Only 44% of all traffic fatalities were linked to alcohol, instead of 57%.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act is also widely supported. Public opinion poll after public opinion poll have consistently show that the majority of Americans agree that the minimum drinking age should stay at 21.REBUTIAL: If the drinking age were lower it would encourage individuals to responsible consumers. Responsibility comes with age. How can anyone say that an 18 year old, and a 21 year old are equally responsible. The raised drinking age has dramatically increased responsibility among younger people. “Compared to 1980 when less than 21 was the norm, fewer college students in 1995 reported drinking in the past month (68% vs. 82%). The same report also concluded that binge “drinking among younger people decreased (68% vs. 82%). The 1978 National Study of Adolescent Drinking Behavior found that 10th – 12th graders in states with lower drinking ages drank significantly more, were drunk more often, and were less likely to abstain from alcohol when they were older.

When individuals turn 18 they can serve in the military, vote, smoke, and sign contracts. If they can do so much when they turn 18, then they should be able to drink when they turn 18. Ages of initiation vary from issue to issue in our great nation. An individual may vote and smoke when he/she turns 18, drink at 21, and rent a car when they turn 25. In each individual case the risks to the public and self need to be weighed against the benefits to the individual. With the drinking age the risks to the public and to the individual out way the benefits to the individual.

In many countries in Europe there is not a minimum drinking age, and they have less alcohol related accidents, and injuries. You cannot compare any nation to the United States. Comparing European nations to the United States is like comparing apples to oranges. Our society is totally different then the societies of European nations.

Minors still find ways to get alcohol, and still drink, so why even bother to have a minimum drinking age. People still find ways to get cocaine and other drugs so does that mean they we should legalize those to? The fact is that since the Act was imposed young people drink less. “In 1983, one year before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed, 88% of high school seniors reported any alcohol use in the past year and 41% reported binge drinking.” The same questions were asked to a group of seniors in 1997 and they reported that “alcohol use by seniors had dropped to 75% and the percentage of binge drinkers had fallen to 31%.”

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