war on underage drinking Essay

Submitted By a981n317
Words: 1549
Pages: 7

The War on Underage Drinking Happy birthday, kid. Or should I say adult. Now that you’re 18 you’ve reached the age of legal adulthood in the United States. You finally have the privilege to exercise your right to vote, enlist in the armed forces, sign contracts in your name and apply for credit. On top of that your parents no longer have to support you, and you’re able to be sued and tried in adult criminal court. Sound stressful? Here, since you’re 18 you can smoke a cigarette to calm yourself down. But don’t touch that beer over there, it’s bad for you! Did I mention that if our country’s armed forces need extra man-power, they now reserve the right to ship you off to the front line of war? But seriously don’t touch that beer, it’s too dangerous.
Such contradictory logic is that of the United States Government. In 1984 the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed requiring each state to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 or be met with a ten percent cut in their individual federal highway funding. Despite the resistance of a few states, by 1988 21 was youngest age one could legally enjoy an alcoholic beverage anywhere across the nation. At the time it was passed the act was fueled legitimate safety concerns. Today not only are these concerns less of an issue, and the act itself may be causing more problems than it is solving. The right to consume alcohol in the United States should be given to all citizens at the age of 18, and the right for a minor to drink while being supervised by their own parents or legal guardian should be given at the age of 16.
Before considering changing the current government policy, one should examine why it was put in place to begin with. After prohibition ended in 1933, each state was empowered to set their own minimum drinking age. Most chose the age of 21, which correlated with the legal voting age of the time. When the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971, 30 states took it upon themselves to also reduce their minimum drinking age to either 18, 19, or 20. Some kept it at 21. Ensuing reports of increased teen automobile accidents in states with younger drinking ages along with pressure from an organization known as MADD, or Mothers against Drunk Driving, pushed the United States Government to pass the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.
Today it has become apparent that the legal minimum drinking age and the prevention of drunk driving are two separate issues. People tend to look at alcohol as the only dangerous factor in drunk driving incidents, however they forget that driving is a dangerous task by itself. MADD (?) states that drunk driving fatalities have been significantly reduced among teenagers since the act has been in place. That trend is not exclusive to just teenagers, in fact drunk driving incidents have been significantly decreased in all age groups and every demographic since NMDAA. This could lead one to suspect other reasons for its decline, such as a generally improved awareness among the public on the dangers of drunk driving, police enforcement, or safer automobiles. Each year the amount of non-automobile alcohol related deaths among 18-24 year olds is dramatically increasing. This shows that despite raising the drinking age, teens and young adults are still dying from alcohol, it just isn’t happening on the roads as much. Most of these deaths are occurring at high school and college parties and are a result of uneducated use of alcohol. Teenagers and young adults are going to drink, and as long as the drinking age is 21 they will continue to do so in unsafe environments and in extremely life threatening ways.
It appears as though a law that was set in place to decrease the amount of deaths on the roads has unintentionally contributed to more deaths off the roads. This is fear of parental and legal punishment has pushed college and high school students to create a subculture of underage drinking where parents and authorities can’t see. This subculture consist