Should America Lower the Legal Drinking Age?
By: Erica-Mary Khan
The US has one of the highest drinking ages in the world, yet we also have one of the most unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships with alcohol. So, would it help if the legal drinking age was lowered?
My personal opinion is yes. The fact is, people are going to drink no matter what, so it is important to focus on how we can help people drink more responsibly. The history of setting the legal drinking age is very complicated. The drinking age was set at 21 back in 1933 and didn’t change until the 1970s, when the voting age was reduced to 18. That action led to half of the states lowering the MLDA (minimum legal drinking age) to 18, 19, or 20. However, after doing a research study that showed a spike in car crashes while under the influence, people decided to move the age limit back up to 21.
The disparity on this topic has only increased. Drinking and driving is becoming a major problem, which is even why the drinking age was raised in the first place. America is the third-worst country when it comes to drunk driving, with 10,511 people in the US between the ages of 18 and 24 dying in alcohol-related injuries, and most of those are from drunk driving. 1 million other drivers were also arrested for driving under the influence that same year. Those numbers are only increasing as the years pass by. So is raising the drinking age really going to help lower the number of accidents that happen under the influence? No matter what the drinking age is, the number of accidents will always be high and will only keep increasing. Everyone knows that no matter how high the legal drinking age is, people will continue to drink and drive, and there isn’t anything we can do to totally prevent that from happening. But what we can do is make sure people are drinking in responsible ways so that at least the number of accidents will decrease.
Lowering the MLDA to 18 will encourage responsible drinking habits and reduce the dangerous situations people get into while they are intoxicated. Having a lower MLDA will also change some of the social situations in which you are allowed to drink. Instead of having to constantly go out and hide your alcohol habits from your family, it would be acceptable to drink at home around your family at the age of 18. Lowering the MLDA in the US to 18 will also help normalize responsible and safe drinking habits at a younger age, which can result in a decrease in binge drinking and car accidents. People will also be welcomed to drink in safer, more controlled environments. So, do you agree, should the legal drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18?