POL 201 American National Government
Instructor: Roger Pao
April 8, 2013
The debate over when an individual is mature enough to drink has gone on for many years. The Federal and local government are concerned with the number of fatalities caused by underage drinking. In recent years the statistics behind underage drinking accidents have risen to the point, that federal and local government officials see the need for change. Sadly both parties do not agree on how this matter should be resolved. Federal law makers have constructed a policy that is made to protect youth from accidents or injuries stemming from drinking alcohol; mandated states to adhere to the policy causing one of the biggest debates today
In efforts to protect youth from accidents relating to underage drinking, federal law makers wrote the MDLA (minimum drinking legal age). The purpose of the MDLA policy is strictly to decrease the number of teenage deaths on the highway due to teenage drinking. Studies back then, and still today, prove that underage drinking is one of the top causes of death in adolescences to young adults. Prohibition of alcohol occurred in 1919, when the 18th Amendment was approved (Levin-Waldman 2012). The 18th Amendment, outlawed the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. This Amendment was repealed with the 21st Amendment in 1933. With the ruling from this appeal all states made the minimum drinking age be 21.
By the mid to late 1900’s times had begun to change. The military draft was inducted and men as young as 18 were being solicited to fight in the military. The legal voting age had been established and in many states the age of majority was 18. According to many definitions, new found responsibilities and rights to passage, an 18 year old was an adult. With the responsibility of being and adult, comes a certain level of stresses. Therefore States than lowered their minimum legal drinking age to fit with the time. In 1984 congress passed the Minimum Drinking act, which mandated every state to pass a law to make the MDLA 21 again (Levin-Waldman 2012). This mandate by the federal government was backed up by using Fiscal federalism. The Government bullied the states into complying with their regulations because, the 21st amendment says States have the right to regulate alcohol. With this fact in mind ,the Federal Government passed the Uniform Drinking Age Act, which provided for a decrease in Federal highway funding to States that did not establish an MLDA of 21 by 1987(Rosenfeld & Alexander 1996). No state wanted to lose their highway funding so all states complied and switched their MLDA's to age 21 by 1988. There are some major pros and cons to the ongoing debate of what the legal drinking age should be. The most notable pro of having the MLDA at 21 is takes responsibility off of the states when these tragedies happen. If States are allowing immature young adults to drink then they are at fault when something goes wrong. It is the same concept of neglect that is taught when dealing with children as a whole. Making dangerous items accessible or providing them to an immature “Child” or young adult shows lack of sound judgment. By having the MLDA in place states are proving that they are trying to protect our youth. Another pro is that the MLDA is decreasing the number of fatalities due to underage alcohol consumption. The biggest reason for the increase amount of accidents is a lack of maturity. Between the ages of 19-21 young adults are in their transition stage of life. They are still too young to understand the lifelong consequences for making bad choices, However are in the “I am grown phase”. They are fresh out of high school, ready to party and live life like there is no tomorrow. Many of them are going away to college and for the first time experiencing not being under mom and dad’s rules. This is the time where they are most influenced and intended on