Pros and Cons of Lowering the Drinking Age


Authored by Kristian Keefer in Child Education 
Published on 01-28-2009

Ever since the drinking age was set at 21, there has been controversy. Many Americans believe that if a young adult is old enough to risk their life defending their country at age 18, then they are mature enough to drink alcohol. People who are against ever lowering the drinking age, point out the fact that fatal automobile accidents have been on a decline ever since the drinking age was set to 21.

There are perceived pros and cons to lowering the drinking age. Americans who believe that an 18 year old adult can be responsible when drinking might advocate a drinking age of 18. It is possible that lowering the drinking age could send a message to young Americans that they can be trusted to show a level of maturity. This in turn might result in more responsible adults and college students.

A lower drinking age could potentially lead to less dangerous decisions made by people under the age of 21 who decide to drink. Sometimes young adults who have not yet reached the age of 21, experiment with alcohol primarily because it is illegal. They are curious as to what it is about drinking that makes it forbidden until 21. If the drinking age was lowered to 18 a potential pro would be that less men and women under 21 would drink.

In addition, lowering the drinking age would make it more likely that college students and other young adults would call for help if they were drunk. Since the drinking age is currently 21, some minors drive under the influence of alcohol because they are afraid to tell their parents they are drinking. Minors do not ask for help if they are having difficulty staying safe while drinking because it is illegal. A lower drinking age might decrease some risky behavior by minors who would otherwise be afraid to admit they were drinking.

Of course, there are many cons to lowering the drinking age. Many 18 year olds just are not ready to drink responsibly. Young adults find themselves away from home for the first time during college. Although many minors do drink even knowing it is against the law, there are some who wait until they are 21. Less young adults drinking on campuses across the country can cut down on crimes and deaths related to alcohol.

If the drinking age was lowered to 18 (for instance), there would be many high school students who would be able to legally drink. Students could fall behind on their studies if they started to drink. Most high school students are not mature enough to handle drinking alcohol. They could make poor choices such as sneaking alcohol to school, driving under the influence or binge drinking. These possibilities are another reason many people do not advocate a lower drinking age.

Federal highway statistics reflect that there were at least 25,000 less fatal car accidents involving minors under the influence with the legal drinking age of 21. This is one of the biggest pros to leaving the drinking age as is. It seems as if the American youth is much safer with a drinking age three years past first reaching adulthood.


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