National drinking age should be lowered to 18

Opinions Columnist | Journalism Sophomore

People 18 years and older are considered adults and should be treated as such by being allowed to legally purchase and consume alcohol.

The United States is one of the few countries that maintains a relatively high minimum legal drinking age of 21. According to a Jan. 23 Huffington Post article, despite the legal drinking age 17.5 percent of consumer spending for alcohol was under that age group. According to the same article, an estimated 90 percent of underage drinking is consumed via binge drinking. Despite the age limit on alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse remains prevalent among the country’s youth.  

The legal drinking age should be lowered to 18. Once 18, a person is legally considered an adult and therefore should be able to drink. Lowering the drinking age will not only give 18-year-olds the rights and recognition they deserve as adults, but will also obliterate a largely ineffective law that only serves to create more red tape.

At the age of 18, a U.S. citizen can vote in an election, defend and possibly die for their country and make all kinds of decisions regarding their life and body. If I want to vote democrat, I can.  If I want ink up my body, I can. If I want to fill my lungs with smoke, I can do that too. Going wine tasting with some friends, however, is somehow too far. There is no reason 18-year-old adults should be denied the right to partake in alcohol. At the age of 18, I believe young adults are old enough to make their own decisions regarding alcohol.  

Even though the minimum legal drinking age is 21, many under 21 still consume alcohol at some point. In fact, underage drinking is overwhelmingly common among college students. If anything, the high drinking age only drives young people to consume more alcohol. There is something alluring about doing something forbidden. According to John McCardell, founder of Choose Responsibility, the legal drinking age does not eliminate consumption among young people. Instead, it only drives underage drinking underground, creating a dangerous culture of irresponsible and extreme drinking.

Keeping the minimum legal drinking age at 21 will not dissuade young people who want to indulge in reckless alcohol intake. If anything, the age limit encourages binge drinking. Lowering the drinking age could make it easier to regulate consumption among younger adults as well as encourage healthy drinking habits.

If the legal drinking age is lowered, people between the ages of 18 and 20 would be able to drink in safer, more controlled environments. If this age group were allowed alcohol at public settings such as bars or restaurants instead of being restricted to unregulated house parties, the prevalence of alcohol-related accidents among young adults could be lowered. Binge drinking would most likely decline and other incidents such as drunk driving and alcohol poisoning could also be prevented more often.

While a common argument is that the high drinking age has saved lives when it comes to drunk driving, more than three out of five alcohol-related deaths of underage drinkers occurred off-road, according to the same Huffington Post article.
The minimum legal drinking age should be lowered, period. Eighteen-year-old individuals are adults who should be able to make their own decisions regarding alcohol.