“5,000 people under age 21 die each year from alcohol-related car crashes, homicides, suicides, alcohol poisoning, and other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning.” (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) It is also said that more than 190,000 people under the age of 21 were treated in an emergency room over just the last five years. While not all drunk drivers are under 21 years old, drunk driving can be associated with age, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claims “the rate was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (23.4 percent). An estimated 5.8 percent of 16 or 17 year olds and 15.1 percent of 18 to 20 year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Beyond age 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age.” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011) With these statistics, some may argue that the legal drinking age should be higher than 21 years old.
Young people who drink are more likely to suffer from impaired judgment. Therefore young drinkers are more likely to carry out or be the victim of a physical or sexual assault. They are more likely to make decisions that they would normally not make while under the influence of alcohol. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 40 percent of violent crimes committed in the United States are alcohol related. (Buddy T, About.com Guide, 2013) The brain continues to develop well into a person’s twenties, and alcohol can cause interference with this development. Adolescence is a time of great impulse and adolescence carries a natural tendency to behave in a particular way. Adding alcohol to already delicate minds is a recipe for disaster.
“In 2011 the National Survey on Drug Use and Health External Web Site Icon reported that 25% of youth aged 12 to 20 years drink alcohol and 16% reported binge drinking.” (U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 2011) By age 18, more than 70 percent of teens have had at least one drink. All while the legal drinking age is 21 years, so if the age is lowered, how many children will have their first drink at say, 12 or 13 years old? It has been stated that nearly 600 thousand college students in the U.S. alone are victim to