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18 Or 21

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18 or 21

After being overseas for 6 months fighting in Iraq, my friend Joe arrived back in the states. He fought hard for his country, carried an M-16, and saved lives. All he wants to do now is to go to the bar and drink a beer with his buddies. So he goes to the bar with his buddies, dressed to impress in his marine outfit. When he gets to the bar, his name is shouted over the intercom with a, "Welcome home Joe." He approaches the bartender and asks for an ice cold Bud Light. To his amazement the bartender asks him for his ID. Joe gives his ID to the bartender, but Joe is denied his beer because he is only 20 years old. Is this right? Joe's only wish when he got back home was to have a beer with his buddies, which he was denied. If somebody has the courage to go overseas to fight for their country, then they should have the right, as an adult, to purchase liquor. Should the legal drinking age be lowered to 18 or remain at 21? Is the raised drinking age worth taking away a freedom from an established adult? The legal drinking age should be lowered to 18 because, as adults, we should have the right to drink, society is capable of handling a lower drinking age, and a lower drinking age will reduce rebellious drinking.

On October first, 1986, to lower the number of teen drinking and driving, all states were required to establish a minimum drinking age of 21. Each state that failed to comply with the federal law would consequently loose five percent of their federal highway funds for 1987 and ten percent for each following year. In 1987 there were 42 states that complied with the federal law. South Dakota wasn't happy with the law and went to the supreme court claiming that by establishing a national 21-year-old drinking age, Congress has violated the 21st amendment. South Dakota was rejected, and after a year, every state had a minimum drinking age of 21 (Opponents say, 1987).

At age 18 we are considered adults and should, as adults, be able to consume alcohol. An adult is defined as being fully developed and mature. If this is the case, then an 18 year old should be mature enough to handle the responsibilities of drinking. After all, they are adults. Becoming an adult is the time in a person's life when society tells them they are mature enough to become legally responsible for themselves. 18 year olds are given the right to vote and the right to join the military. At the age of 18 a person can enlist in the armed forces and can be trusted with a deadly weapon, yet they cannot be trusted with a drink at a bar. Nevertheless, becoming an adult is not the time where all freedom is earned. Alcohol is the one item that an adult under the age of 21 cannot purchase. This makes no sense to me at all. Take the scenario above for example; after fighting for freedom in Iraq, Joe is denied freedom in his own country. Joe is an adult, and as an adult he should be able to drink alcohol legally. If society claims that people 18 years of age are not responsible enough to handle the effects of alcohol, then people should not be considered adults until they are 21. After all, fully developed and matured individuals should be responsible enough to consume alcohol. In any case, when a person becomes an adult, he or she should be allowed to drink alcohol. It is immoral to deny an adult this freedom.

Over time, society is more capable of managing young adult drinking than in the past. Since the drinking age was raised to 21, government regulation of alcohol has heightened. To minimize underage drinking and driving, a new zero tolerance law has been implemented in the state of Michigan. This law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from driving a motor vehicle with any bodily alcohol content. Another .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) law is also in action prohibiting any legal drinker from driving a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 or higher. Back in 1986, there were laws that prohibited driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated, but they were merely a slap on the wrist compared to the current laws. Back then, 18 year olds were able to drink and drive with a BAC of 1.0. Nowadays, even if the person was of legal age, he or she would go to jail. There is also a greater awareness on the effects of drinking. Nowadays, children go through a variety of programs that explain the consequences of drinking. Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) is a popular program for younger children that explains awareness about drugs and alcohol, how to stay away from peer pressure, and teaches good decision making skills. During drivers training, young drivers are educated further on the effects of drinking and driving.

Lowering the drinking age to 18 will lower rebellious drinking. Research shows that most drinkers under the age of 21 have been attracted to alcohol because it is a, "Forbidden fruit, a badge of rebellion against authority and a symbol of adulthood" (Engs, 1998). The drinking age will not stop underage drinking, but it will have an affect on where and how much the underage drinkers are going to consume. Many underage drinkers, in an attempt to have a good time with their legal buddies, are often caught frontloading (drinking a lot of alcohol in a short period of time before going to parties or clubs where young people would get carded) (Schraa, 2003). Also, the drinking age of 21 has forced students to party in less public and thus more dangerous locations. "To avoid being caught drinking illegally, students frequently party off campus. With less oversight from adults, heavy drinking, brawling, and sexual misconduct are more likely to occur" (Smith and Smith, 1999). I, myself, have gone to such places and found them to be very dangerous places to drink. I have been to a lot of underage drinking parties where fights have broke loose and where people have almost died from drinking too much. I have also seen younger females being taken advantage of because they are too drunk to know better. In addition, after being denied admittance to most places and left to party on the streets, people are purchasing fake Ids (Wheelan, 1995). Instead of forcing underage drinkers to drink out of the public eye, wouldn't it make more sense to allow them drink in a controlled environment legally? If this were to happen, rebellious drinking would become less of a threat to society.

Without a doubt, drunken driving deaths have gone down since the drinking age was raised to 21. The main goal in rising the drinking age was to lower the amount of drinking and driving. The desired effects from lowering the drinking have indeed come true. Many sources, in fact, state over 20,000 lives have been saved since the hike in the drinking age. After reading this fact, I myself was convinced that the drinking age should remain at 21. I, however,



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