An 18-Year-Olds Right

Ever since the end of prohibition in 1933 the United States government has placed the
issue of MLDA (minimum legal drinking age) sensitively in the hands of the states, letting each
decide for itself what the minimum age should be. At that time all agreed that the minimum
legal drinking age should be 21, where it remained for all states until 1970. Between 1970, and
1975 a number of states (29 to be exact) played around with the idea of lowering that age to 20,
19, and even 18 for some states. At this time the minimum age for other activities, like the right
to vote were being lowered as well. The argument was that if a person is considered an adult at
18, and can serve his or her country and vote in it's elections, he or she ought to be able to have a
drink.(Toomey 1) This is exactly the way I feel about it. The drinking age should be lowered to
During the period in the 70's when many states were lowering their drinking ages
scientists started doing studies to determine whether or not the younger drinking ages had any
effect on automobile accidents. These studies generally concluded that traffic accidents
significantly increased among teenagers after the MLDA was lowered.(Toomey 1) It can,
however, easily be argued that since these studies came out right after the drinking ages had been
lowered, they would naturally show that there was an increase in death among teenagers.
Anytime you change something dramatically it takes a while for things to settle into a routine. If
all of a sudden, for instance, you allow 18-year-olds to drink alcohol when before they couldn't,
it's going to take a while before that becomes the norm, and therefore less exciting and alluring.
These studies would have been far more accurate if they had been done after society had adapted
to the change.
When the government found that many of the states were lowering the drinking age to 18
and 19, it began to worry about the safety of teens in those and neighboring states. One of the
ways that the government tried to discourage this was by offering increased highway incentives
for any states who maintained a minimum. The states were only to quick to volunteer to raise
their minimums. The government also threatened to reduce the amount of federal money offered
to the states for improvement of the highways. Obviously the states didn’t want to lose any
money so they complied with the government.
Many people believe that there are other ways to decrease the number of accidents and
teenage deaths associated with teenage drinking. Many states have "Zero Tolerance Laws"
which severely punish underage teens who are driving with any blood alcohol in their bodies at
all. The punishment is usually the loss of the offending teens license, and those officials who
stand on the side of lowering the drinking age feel that this would be enough of a deterrent to
keep underage teens from drinking and driving. The current standard MLDA is 21, many feel
this is unfair because it crosses to many age and social barriers. For instance, many college
juniors and seniors can drink, but sophomores and freshman cannot. This automatically breeds
unlawful activity, because college freshman and sophomores can't "party with their friends"
according to the law. By the time most high school seniors graduate they have already turned
18, and those who haven't soon will. If the minimum drinking age were lowered to 18 or 19 it
would dramatically cut down on the number of incidents of illegal drinking on college
A minimum drinking age of ten obviously makes no sense because no one would expect
a 10-year-old to be able to distinguish between an alcoholic beverage and a non-alcoholic one.
However 19 as a minimum drinking age is a much more realistic goal. The theory is that by 19
most people have completed or are at least out of high school and are out functioning in a world
much older than that of their days in school. They are expected to be more mature, and to act as
adults in all other ways. They can smoke, marry, have sexual relationships, have children, buy
lottery tickets, make contracts, and die, but in most states are still not old enough to have a drink,
and many people feel this is wrong.(Drinking 1)
By making young adults wait until their 21st birthday only breeds disaster, and makes
underage drinking seem more mysterious