Can I see your ID?

An 18th birthday is an exciting event for every teenager. At this age, a person can finally be considered an adult. Tobacco lovers can purchase tobacco, gamblers can gamble in casinos and buy lottery tickets, and a person can legally fight for their country. You can vote, get married, buy a gun, and even go to a strip club if that’s your style. But what’s the one thing you can’t do? Drink a beer.

The minimum drinking age of 21 is a topic that has sparked debate since it was first implemented in 1984 by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The Act passed called for states to increase their drinking age in the U.S or face a 10 percent decrease in federal funding of highways. Although the minimum drinking age of 21 may seem like a legitimate law to pass in order to decrease the number of risks associated with consuming alcohol, we might actually be putting ourselves in more danger by keeping the drinking age at 21. Every rebellious teenager has felt the urge to do something you’re not exactly allowed to do, but wouldn’t pose a huge risk if they were to get caught. Who hasn’t taken a sip of alcohol during a dinner or tasted someone’s drink while being under the age of 21? My guess would be no one. By alcohol having the appeal of the forbidden cookie jar every kid wants to get into but can’t reach, teens are more inclined to abuse alcohol by binge drinking, drinking and driving, and use fake ID’s.

Dan Levine, author of “A Legal Drinking Age of 21 Does Not Reduce Drunk Driving,” said that “If you can toss a grenade, you should certainly be able to toss back a shot of tequila. Telling an adult who is legally able to fight and die for our country and smoke a pack of cigarettes but cannot drink an alcoholic drink is unfair and unjust. It’s like telling someone they can legally drive a car but can’t purchase a cell phone. It just doesn’t make sense. I’ve had the opportunity to travel in Europe briefly and actually live abroad in Australia for four months where a drinking age doesn’t even exist. Yes, these countries face the same risks as the U.S for alcohol related deaths, but alcohol is seen as more of a leisurely activity rather than a case race or shot pounding. Even when I was out to bars in Australia, everyone there was over the age of 24 and it was a rare occasion when I talked to a person who was younger than 19. Alcohol just isn’t considered to be as big of a deal as it is in the U.S and this I think is primarily because it’s something that isn’t mystified as being forbidden.

Regardless of whether the drinking age is 21 or not, people are still going to consume alcohol illegally, kids are still going to get into their parents liquor cabinets, and teens are still going to purchase fake ID’s to get into clubs where they can drink until they pass out. By placing alcohol on a pedestal that is attainable but not exactly allowed, we are giving underage’s more incentive to break the rules. If you put a cookie in front of a sugar addict like myself and tell them not to eat it, what do you think will happen? Yes, I’m going to wait until you leave the room, and run off with that cookie like it’s my job. Legal or not Legal.


7 thoughts on “Can I see your ID?

  1. I’ve always wondered why the legal drinking age is 21. I’ve heard some claims that changing the drinking age was partially due to new information regarding brain development in young adults. Apparently, the brain experiences major developments from ages 18-21 that can be interrupted by consuming alcohol. So I have to ask, if the government is trying to protect our health (specifically brain development from ages 18-21) then why is smoking cigarettes legal at 18? The practice is arguably more hazardous to overall health when done at any age than drinking is at age 18.

  2. Seems like 1984 was more than just an Orwell novel and an awesome Apple commercial. I also lived abroad this past semester – in France. The legal drinking age there is 18 for hard alcohol, and 16 for wine and beer. But children are raised with an appreciation for wine that ceases to exist in the US. It is not uncommon for children as young as 10 to have a sip of wine or cider from their parent’s glass. As a result, they are raised with an understanding of responsible alcohol consumption. One certainly encounters the typical blacked out bar hopper during a Saturday evening’s festivities. But it’s a once-in-a-while-had-a-bad-day-my-girlfriend-dumped-me kind of event, not a weekly occurrence.

  3. I agree with Rachel, after being abroad I definitely noticed a difference in the amount of alcohol people my age were drinking. The drinking age of 21 in the United States makes drinking a taboo topic. Parents do not talk to their kids about it and the topic is not really discussed in school either. I think the fact that the drinking age is 21 makes the whole culture surrounding drinking in America different than the rest of the world.

  4. I agree with all of those points. Another point I’d like to make relates more to college. I’d say the majority of students, at least at our university, drink alcohol the first few years of college before they turn 21. Many of the penalties these students might face are due to not following the drinking age law. Mostly everyone breaks this law because like Alexandra said, they have the incentive to, and yet only a few get caught and are penalized, which could jeopardize their future. Another issue is that students have no idea before coming to school how to drink in moderation or at a somewhat appropriate pace. If the drinking age was lowered, perhaps these students would be at less of a risk and do less binge drinking like certain European countries.

  5. I completely agree with everyone’s points here. The high drinking age definitely seems to make it a more desirable activity for underage-ers to engage in. It’s fun, but also much more risky. I wish this were solvable, but I can only imagine all the problems that would result from lowering the drinking age in the U.S. And on a cultural level, I think it would be reeeeally difficult to change our overall attitudes towards drinking.

  6. I agree with all of the above comments. Like Meg, I have heard the claims that the drinking age was set because of biological evidence regarding brain development. However, I fail to see how the government can justify not allowing people to drink alcohol at an age when they can do so many other things (like join the military). As others have suggested, I too believe that the drinking culture in the U.S. has only been fostered by the age restriction. I think it’s time for the government to consider reverting back to the 1983 way of life.

  7. Speaking of drinking at college, has everyone heard of the Amethyst Initiative? Several years ago, college and university presidents and chancellors banded together to create the group, with the goal of lowering the drinking age to 18. They cite binge drinking on college campuses as the biggest problem they deal with, and maintain that the 21 drinking age actually hurts young people. If you’re interested:

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