In the early morning hours of August 28, 2008, two teenagers, Milad Moulayi and Mackenzie Frazee, left a friend's party in Milad's Mercedes Benz. They both had been drinking underage at the party, guzzling down a few cocktails throughout the night. Just minutes after leaving the party, the Mercedes had gained speeds of more than 100 mph and found itself wrapped around a utility pole, just a few miles away from their friend's house. Milad, 18-years-old, walked away from the accident with just a few scratches and bruises, and Mackenzie, 16-years-old, was pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital. Milad had a blood alcohol level of .11%, well past the legal California limits for drivers over age 21 (Barboza). This tragic story of young lives lost to drunken driving – to both death and prison – has become more rare since the passage of The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 (Wagenaar 206). However, there still continues to be a debate on reducing the minimum legal age for alcohol consumption to 18 years old. Reducing the legal drinking age by just a few years will, in no uncertain terms, directly and tragically increase the number of deaths in the U.S. by thousands. "In 1984, U.S. Congress passed The National Minimum Drinking Age Act, punishing every state that allowed the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages by anyone under the age of 21; by 1987, all states had passed explicit laws in accordance with The Act" (Liebschutz 40). However, now thirty years later, the United States is still only one of four developed countries from around the world that has a drinking age of 18 years (Brand). Like most all developed countries, the U.S. has a majority age of 18. Although U.S. law acknowledges that at age 18, young adults possess the maturity and judgment to operate a vehicle, serve in the military, vote for government representatives, participate as a juror in a trial, even sign a contract, these same laws do not allow 18-year-olds the right to purchase, possess or consume alcohol. Developed countries like Germany and Belgium even allow 16-year-olds to buy and consume beer and wine, yet they are not showcasing record numbers of drinking-and-driving accidents (Popova 468). A common belief among Americans is England having fewer drinking problems than America as their drinking age is 18; Which is not a fact, England has a higher rate of drinking and driving, binge drinking, rape, and abuse as well. Additionally, young adults are continuing to drink alcohol, legal or not. Studies show that binge drinking by young adults is at a staggering high of 45%, and this statistic is at a level well above pre-1984 levels (Weschler 208). Supporters of the minimum age of alcohol consumption being reduced to 18-years-old can point to nearly every other developed nation in the world for comparison.
The problem with reducing the minimum legal age of drinking in the United States is, in fact, because it is the United States. Americans live in excess, and young people are no different. There are hundreds of books that line the virtual Amazon.com shelves that outline this gluttony, including The Culture of Excess and Binge. Imagine the levels of binge drinking among young adults if they didn't have to sneak in the cans of beer or the bottles of liquor. Undoubtedly, the levels of binge drinking would then be described as the majority of young adults in this country. Binge drinking levels cannot be compared to the early 1980s only because the binging; excessive American culture had not yet arrived. As The Culture of Excess describes, it was the rapid growth of technology, media and capitalism that helped develop this American culture (Slosar 3). Compare for example, how the United States uses energy in comparison to other countries; according to The World Bank, the U.S. uses nearly 25% of the world's energy with less than 5% of the global population ("2014 World Development Indicators").