Should the drinking age be lowered?
Alcohol is known as the favorite drug of the American teenagers. The high prevalence of binge drinking is particularly a worrisome trend. Considering these factors, a large number of people believe lowering the drinking age can change things. However, there are both pros and cons to it that are a point of debate. There has been much fuss over the current age limit. Most commonly people argue that anyone is sufficiently mature at 18 to drink. Contrary to that young people are being restricted from drinking till they are 21. This kind of prohibition encourages or rather forces the young to obtain alcohol via illegal sources. A person who would otherwise consume it in moderation, takes it in abundance whenever he can lay hands on it. This age limit created a scarcity for the people under 21 leading to a surge in alcohol’s demand. So, according to the supporters the current age limit has the opposite of the desired effect.
There are several advantages of lowering the drinking age according to its supporters. At the age of 18, people are mature enough to enter into contracts, get married and make responsible decisions. However, the law does not consider them mature enough to purchase a drink. Most people who are now 18, find this law unjust and absurd. In a way, it also seems illogical. At a time when the marijuana laws are being relaxed all over the nation, keeping the legal age for drinking at 21 does seem dictatorial. If a nineteen year old is mature enough to go to war, then alcohol is substantially less dangerous. If young people grow mature enough to become responsible for themselves at 18, there is no need to keep the legal limit for drinking at 21. The truth is that a very large number of young people start taking alcohol long before they are 18. Binge drinking is like a rite of passage for every youngster. The problem is if the drinking laws have been able to achieve what they intended to. The legal age limit was set at 21 to reduce traffic fatalities. This is just like making petrol costlier to reduce pollution. Similarly, has the law been able to deter the young people from drinking? Again no. Something contrary to it happened. The more law has tried to keep it out of their reach, the more they have felt attracted towards it.
The arguments commonly made against lowering the drinking age are the same. Alcohol is harmful. It makes people behave irrationally. Youth are not used to drinking with restraint. Keeping it out of their reach reduces accidents. And so on. Still, law was never able to prove alcohol the culprit but instead made itself one in the eyes of the youth. Alcohol being for the grown ups, young people cannot help seeing it as a magical potion which makes them feel like grown up. What is not clear is if law is trying to teach abstinence or force it upon youngsters.
The government can lower the drinking age because someone it considers fit to make his decisions on important matters like marriage, joining the military as well as serving on a jury, should also be fit for having a drink. Moreover, it is not necessary that it will lead to more accidents. Instead, the increasing trend of binge drinking is accidental or tragic. Probably, increasing the supply would bring the demand down. However, government is still stuck to some ill-founded beliefs in this regard.