Drinking age is 21 for a reason

The serious consequences of alcohol abuse, especially among college students, have been widely documented.† Did you know that almost 700,000 American students in 2005 between the ages of 18 and 24 were victims of abuse by a fellow student who was intoxicated, and 97,000 students were victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or rape? So yes, drinking can lead to problems.

What would be the benefit for lowering the age? Critics point out Americans can vote, get drafted, and federally charged as an adult at age 18, therefore they should at least be able to throw a few back. Some claim teens are responsible enough to know their alcohol limitations. Others cite the national drinking age was raised to 21 after Reagan did it in 1984, and before then states could decide, and if the states thought younger was better, so be it.

Do these arguments revolve around believing it should be a right to drink younger, or it would better than the situation that we currently have? Itís commonly cited that Europeís drinking ages are significantly lower, with France and Italy at 16 and Portugal not even having one. That isnít an argument to change our drinking age however. Seeing that one person gets to do something that you canít doesnít give you any right to do it.

Furthermore, these countries are not simply immune to drunk driving and alcoholism.† They have adopted increasingly strict penalties for intoxicated disputes, and most countries distribute driving licenses years after the drinking age. In my opinion, itís impractical to change the drinking age to 18 if the driving age is then 20, as many of us have relied heavily on our ability to drive since 16.

Additionally, a study showed 2.1 million American students admitted to driving drunk. The statistics in the first paragraph are also staggeringly high. How would these numbers go down if the drinking age was lowered?

If America stressed the importance of safety and responsibility with drinking instead of decrying it as an evil to young adults, perhaps the attitude towards drinking would shift in the eyes of teens. Abstinence-only programs and anti-drug campaigns still come under fire for controversial teachings and misleading facts. If alcohol awareness steps up, perhaps American teens will act accordingly, and maybe then the age can be lowered.

(Statistics found at www.about-alcohol-info.com, http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov and www.centurycouncil.org).