The United States’ legal age of adulthood is eighteen. A person may smoke cigarettes, vote in elections, get married, play the lottery, and join the military. If a person can make those decisions at eighteen, why not decisions on their own alcohol consumption? Universal age of adulthood should be eighteen for everything, including alcohol consumption. Let’s be honest, why does the government even try? Young adults under twenty one are going to drink.
They’re going to hide it in their trunks or bags; they will create fake ID’s to go to a bar with their friends for a good time. Drinking and driving is the number one defense when you take MLDA twenty one into consideration (White n. p. ). Drunk driving is bad and it does result in fatalities and injuries, but why is it acceptable to send someone to war to risk their life while at the same time they can’t legally pull up a seat at a bar and drink with their friends.
I am not supporting drinking and driving in any way, as it is never has to be an option to drink and drive. The slogan “drink responsibly” was developed to push consumers to perform what it is intended for: drinking responsibly. In the book Dying to Drink, the author created a myth busting section, with one stating: “MYTH: As an individual, it’s up to me to drink responsibly. I’m in control. I can handle my liquor. ” Author Wechsler states that the more you drink the less control you have on the amount you drink, regardless of original intentions.
I personally believe that this is false. Nobody wants to be carrying their drunk passed out friend, shown in the “drink responsibly” ad to the right, and as an occasional binge drinker myself, I know when to stop drinking. Growing up I had morals, whereas I don’t want to end up being the girl passed out completely wasted, embarrassing myself. Who’s fault is it that young adults under twenty one are not educated on drinking alcohol, just because they’re not of age? Maybe if they were educated, those young adults wouldn’t make unwise decisions.
In the eyes of the law, it is unwise for persons under twenty one to drink alcohol, but who does that stop? The term “Forbidden Fruit” comes from the well known story from the Holy Bible where Adam takes an apple off of the tree in the Garden of Eden because he was specifically told not to eat it. The apple was so tempting that Adam ate it, and was banished from the Garden of Eden. Alcohol can in many ways be considered a forbidden fruit for minors under twenty one. So if one can’t have alcohol, then one will crave it more.
When you drink under twenty one, the urge to even drink after twenty one diminishes. An interview with a former high school teacher of mine, Matthew Brown, strengthens the argument. I asked him several questions about his young adulthood and any underage drinking. He told me that he consumed his first drink at fifteen, was first drunk at sixteen, and by the time he was twenty one, drinking wasn’t even a big deal anymore. He admitted to drinking and driving a few times in his life, but in his words, that action was his “last resort”.
Recently, I visited a friend of mine and he offered to crack open a few Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s. To my underage mind, I could only think “oh boy, an opportunity to drink”. I told him my thoughts and he told me that it’s nothing when you become of age. Drinking is no longer ‘fun’. If the MLDA was reduced to eighteen, then drinking wouldn’t be ‘fun’ anymore to young adults when it is readily available at anytime.
About four out of five college students drink alcohol. About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking (NIAAA n. ). That night where I cracked open the first drink, I resulted in drinking at least four drinks, because I didn’t know another opportunity where I could get alcohol again. That becomes the logic of any underage drinker, resulting in binge drinking. Binge drinking is not safe, and each year almost 600,000 students between the ages of eighteen and 24 receive unintentional injuries under the influence of alcohol (NIAAA n. p. ). That same friend, who I drank with on my personal occasion of binge drinking, also injured himself on his eighteenth birthday.
He broke his left hand in three places but doesn’t remember anything from that night. He broke his hand on the Friday of his birthday, but his friends didn’t want to take him to get medical attention because they were afraid he would get in trouble for drinking. His trip to the hospital was delayed until that Monday. Lowering MLDA twenty one to eighteen would reduce the number of underage people hurt from alcohol related injuries or accidents due to the fear of legal consequences if they sought medical attention.
More than 190,000 people under age twenty one visited an emergency room for alcohol-related injuries in 2008 alone (NIAAA n. p. ). Maybe this number would stay the same in the beginning of a MLDA change, but lessons would be learned and less dangerous activities would be attempted, consequently lowering the rate of injury. Even if rates don’t decline, people would rather be able to ensure the safety of themselves or a friend instead of worrying about legal trouble. In this time and day, a person doesn’t get caught drinking unless they publicly do it, or are injured and seek medical attention.
Police are not out to get people in the United States while underage drinking. Law enforcement is too scarce. Yes, there is a “must show ID policy” when buying alcohol, but that doesn’t stop people from creating fake ID’s. Where is the law enforcement on the roads? Police pull drivers over who are swerving, and could potentially be drunk, but everybody is not enforced well-enough to prevent injury. Choose Responsibly is a non-profit organization that is pro MLDA eighteen.
Choose Responsibly states that when looking at other countries side-by-side with the United States, the incidence of alcohol-related problems go as follows: “In terms of alcohol-impaired driving and related fatalities, a recent NHTSA study that compared DUI laws in the United States to those in comparable nations, such as the European Union States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Brazil, found that the United States had the highest proportion of traffic fatalities that were alcohol-related among the 12 countries reporting data.
The same study found that the United States has the highest legal BAC limit for impaired driving—. 10 at the time of publication (2000)—and relatively lax enforcement as compared to nations like Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and Spain where mandatory random breath testing and sobriety checkpoints were reported to be frequent and prevalent. ” Why aren’t random breath testing and sobriety checkpoints enforced in the United States? Where is the law enforcement, except at the scene of an accident to write a ticket for a minor in possession, or pull an injured person from a car?
As mentioned previously by Choose Responsibly, the United States may have the highest traffic fatalities, but that is in result of poor law enforcement tactics. Cutting a state’s highway funding by ten percent may seem like a bad decision when choosing MLDA eighteen, but why not turn it into a good decision? Maybe that ten percent of funding could be used to fund law enforcement of drinking and driving. That could result in a win-win situation. While MLDA eighteen may be what is in the light, MLDA twenty one is effective, too.
In the book Teen Alcoholism, it is stated that teenagers who drink heavily can result in having a dramatic drop in grades and increased absenteeism (46). Drunkenness can lead to violence, and other crimes, such as stealing and robbery, to pay for more alcohol (47). Lowering the MLDA to eighteen may also make alcohol easily accessed to younger minors, under eighteen, also known as a trickle-down effect. Two studies by the National Institute on Drug abuse in 2001 found that fewer college students reported drinking in the past month in 2000 (67. 4%) than in 1980 (82%), when younger drinking ages were the norm.
Annual alcohol use by high school seniors dropped from 87% in 1983 (before passage of the national MLDA law) to 73. 2% in 2000 (Alcohol Policy MD n. p. ). In response to sources that say MLDA twenty one is effective, where are young adults even ever educated in drinking? Abstinence of drinking is so heavily enforced, that it is forgotten no matter how much one is told to not do an action, they’re going to do it. So why not educate to prevent the action? It is just as much of an argument as condoms passed out in schools. Does that encourage sex? Maybe, but it prevents STD’s and pregnancy.
If alcohol responsibility classes were made a requirement for seniors in high school, which the median age is eighteen, it might seem as if it is an encouragement to drink, but at least they would be educated. California State University student Jill Parish writes in her argument “Alcohol Information Directed at Underage Students: Abstinence or Education”: “Most higher education institutions offer alcohol education such as tips on how to drink responsibly, what foods to eat and avoid when consuming alcohol, phone numbers to call if they find themselves unable to drive and signs of alcohol poisoning to students who are over twenty one.
However, to students who are under the age of twenty one alcohol education consists of one message ‘don’t drink, it is illegal. ‘ It is unrealistic of these institutions to assume that because underage students are not being exposed to alcohol education they will choose to abstain from alcohol. ” In response, if MLDA was eighteen, colleges would be able to provide resources to all of their students. If students were previously educated, they would be pre-educated and the heavy drinking prevalent in colleges would decrease.
Keeping the MLDA at 21 makes little rational sense. MLDA twenty one can successfully be lowered to eighteen supported by a number of reasons. At eighteen years old, a person is seen as an adult in the eyes of the law for everything but alcohol purchase or consumption. MLDA twenty one doesn’t prevent people under twenty one from drinking, they decide themselves. Alcohol related injuries don’t get reported due to persons being afraid of getting in trouble with the law. Lastly, law enforcement does not have the resources to strictly enforce MLDA twenty one as a top priority.