By Daniella Teran
On July 17, 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. This act would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or consume/possess any alcoholic beverage in public. For many years now, this law has been upheld and doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. However, within the same amount of time this act had been followed, more and more arguments have been formulated against the law.
Many times, claims have been presented among everyday citizens like, “If you can join the army and risk your life for your country at 18, you should be able to sit down at a bar and get a drink.” or “Eighteen is still a teenager, the brain isn’t fully developed, so how could a teenager make serious decisions about the way they drink with an immature brain?” Both sides make points to clarify the way they feel about this subject and have the right to do so. Yet, the question continues to pop up, so should the drinking age be lowered to 18?
Here are a few reasons why and why not. To start off, one of the points made for lowering the national drinking age in the U.S. is that drivers don’t face the same choices now compared to back then. According to a New York Post article titled, “We should legalize drinking at 18 to make college life safer” Scott Johnston mentions that, “In reality, drivers of all ages have reacted to the much tougher enforcement and severely increased penalties. Back in the day it was, ‘Get home safe, son’. Now it’s the slammer and huge fines. Technology has also changed, creating safer alternatives. Kids know to call Uber, an option not available in the 80s, as with the mobile phones used to summon them.”
Besides the harsher consequences and options, the effects that have come with having the drinking age at 21 hurts the way teenagers view alcohol and their choices to consume it. For example, in the article “Lower the Drinking Age to 18? (Yes Says Expert and Here’s Why)” by Dr. Elizabeth M. Whelan, she explains that, “The per capita consumption of alcohol in France, Spain and Portugal is higher than in the U.S. However, the rate of alcoholism and alcohol abuse is lower. A glass of wine at dinner is normal practice. Youths learn to regard moderate drinking as an enjoyable family activity. Not as something they have to sneak away to do. Banning drinking by young people makes it a badge adulthood-a tantalizing forbidden fruit.”
Although, there are many benefits that seem to come lowering the drinking age, there could also be downfalls. In the article “Why Shouldn’t the Drinking Age Be Lowered?” found on the site New Health Advisor, it states up to nine claims toward not lowering the drinking age. The article it not only speaks of the usual concerns such as driving incidents and irresponsible behavior but how it can medically influence a young teenager. It goes onto to say in the article that lowering the drinking age “… may affect the development of the frontal lobes of the brain in young adults, which will lead to complication regarding emotional regulation, organization and planning. This may also lead to chronic problems such as dangerous-risk taking behavior, greater vulnerability to addiction, memory loss, violence, depression, suicidal tendencies, and reduced decision-making ability.”
With the pros and cons in mind, the uncertainty of lowering the drinking age to 18 is still is given but then another question comes up for our society to agree and pick which possibility is worth the risk?