Lowering the Drinking age to 18...

[deleted account] ( 25 moms have responded )

The post about raising the drivers licence age to 18 got me thinking...should we lower the drinking age to 18...would it be wise to give someone their drivers licence the same day they can legally go get hammered drunk? Im all for lowering the drinking age to 18 if they can keep their licence at 16...my personal opinion...but if they raise the driving age to 18 I say keep it at 21 or maybe lower it to 19 so atleaset they cant kill someone the first day tehy have their licence...

here is the debate...

60 Minutes had an interesting piece last night looking at the debate over whether or not to lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. I guess I must be getting old as I viewed the scenes of college students trying to drink themselves to death with bemusement rather than the enthusiasm I would have undoubtedly exhibited at their age (and for several years thereafter).

The debate has special resonance for me because the leading proponent of lowering the drinking age is John McCardell, who was president of Middlebury College when I was an undergrad there—I like to joke with my undergrad buddies that we are in some small way responsible for his view that the current drinking age has promoted a culture of secret, binge drinking.

McCardell and Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, squared off on this topic in our pages last fall. Both sides make strong arguments, but I still haven't gotten a satisfactory answer to this objection to the 21 law: How can we as a society say that 18-year-olds are old enough to kill or die in the armed forces, participate in the course of the nation in the voting booth, judge their peers in a jury, and, yes, operate automobiles ... but that they are insufficiently mature to take a drink. (I wonder, by the way, if the driving age shouldn't be increased from 16ish depending on state to 18.)

McCardell makes an interesting suggestion in the 60 Minutes piece that I hadn't heard before: Teenagers should be educated about booze and its effects before they can legally take a drink.

There are larger issues we need to address as a society regardless of what happens regarding the drinking age. First, alcohol education starts at home: Parents are the first line of education when it comes to liquor and how teens deal with alcohol will reflect at least in part how it is regarded at home. More broadly, as Maureen Ogle, author of a history of beer, wrote in this space in December, this country still has a prohibition hangover. We repealed the prohibition laws but still treat booze like it ought to be illegal.

the 60 minutes video...but its only 13 minutes long lol...ironic...



Amy - posted on 03/22/2010




Drinking age. I agree that if you are responsible enough to carry a gun and kill people for the country, you should be able to be responsible enough for alcohol consumption. I don't care what age it is, I think the real reason people have problems is because alcohol is so kept away from kids. We just tell them no no no, bad bad bad. Have to be a certain age. That would encourage me to do it earlier. Who cares what age it is because I still had classmates going out and getting drunk at 16. Legal or not, it was happening. Still is I'm sure. I grew up where once a week we had wine with supper and at holidays we had Champagne. ALL of us did. I took sips when i was about 12. Never asked to until then. Sparkling grape juice had been provided. I to this day haven't been drunk and I get made fun of for it. I am just a control freak and don't want to lose control of me. My mom told me horror stories about alcohol and people getting raped. I be danged if i was going to be one of THOSE girls.

As far as driving.Teens and adults drive too recklessly around here. They are so focused on their music and their phones, they are going to kill someone. First and foremost driving is getting point A to point B safely. I know farmers kids who were driving farm equipment [can do way more damage than a car and worth WAY more] at age 12. They did fine. no accidents. Most likely because dad or mom was there with them and showing them for YEARS how to do it. A six week driver's ed class will not properly teach kids to drive.

as far as alcohol illegal again? why would we prohibit something that can actually have health benefits and add flavor in cooking when there are things that are legal that are killing people? doesn't make sense to me. I really am beginning to think that the more rules there are, the more messed up we get.

Rosie - posted on 03/22/2010




what i have a huge problem with is that in the united states we can go fight and die for our country but we can't have a beer? pretty fucking ridiculous if you ask me. we say their bodies can handle cigarette toxins, but not alcohol? they can handle killing somebody in combat, but not alcohol? i didn't drink until i was 19, but at that age i felt like my body handled alcohol just fine. however, i drove drunk for a while, but i feel i would've done that if i had started drinking at age 21. i needed experience, and life lessons to teach me about drunk driving (as stupid as that seems), i'm the type of person that learns from my mistakes, but if i don't make the mistake, i don't learn (usually).

drinking age should be 18, driving age should be 16.

[deleted account]

I'm not for it, but I also wish that alcohol could be illegal (yes, I'm aware it didn't work.. still, I can dream) so my vote probably doesn't count. :)


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Stephany - posted on 03/24/2010




Kelly, I agree with you here. I think you should have to be 21 to enlist in the armed forces. I don't think an 18 year old can fully grasp the magnitude of such a sacrifice, obligation, and commitment. I do think the drinking age should be 18. It wouldn't make a difference, really- I mean, so many 18, 19, 20 year olds drink on such a regular basis that it couldn't possibly be much worse than it is now. However, I also think that if they have a job 16 year olds should be able to vote. My argument behind that is that they have to pay taxes, so taxing them without allowing them to vote is taxation without representation. I dunno- I guess there are quite a few things I would like to see change.

Amy - posted on 03/24/2010




I think it was 1985 they raised the drinking age from 18 to 21. I don't think you should be able to drink at 18. I was a senior in High school at 18. I think 19 is a better age.

Sunny - posted on 03/23/2010




I live in Australia and here we get our learners permit at 16 and out probationary license at 18 and at 18 we can also drink and vote. Over here 18 is when you are handed all the responsibilities of adults and it also falls into the last year of high school, i think it works well.

[deleted account]

I'm in Canada and the legal drinking age in my province is 18 and honestly I was drinking way before I was 18. lol I don't think that putting a restriction on age is going to stop kids from drinking. They just go drinking at a party instead of a bar. I would rather my kids not drink but if they did I would like to be there to teach them about drinking responsibly. By the time their 21 there usually in collage and you have no idea what the heck they are doing.

[deleted account]

People can join the military, be sent to death row, get married and have babies under 21, but they can't go to a bar. It absurd to everyone of us who are not American.

I'm from the UK and I'm 30 years old and still get turned away from bars here in the US. As far as I'm aware nowhere has a drinking age of 21 except for the USA and how has it helped your country? I know people who do meth and eat pills like candy and nothing is ever done to them. Your policing the wrong people.

LaCi - posted on 03/23/2010




You are not the only one Alison. 16 years is long enough for me. I can't wait until he can go run my errands for me.

Alison - posted on 03/23/2010




Interesting discussion. I am also in Quebec where drinking age is 18. Here are my thoughts:
Are Americans more responsible in their alcohol consumption than the Quebecers? (I would say probably not). I totally agree with Amy that alcohol is treated like something that is bad rather than teaching children responsible drinking. I am quite certain that my children will drink alcohol at home before they are 18, because I prefer to be around for their first experiences with alcohol. I don't want it to be the forbidden fruit, but rather a fruit that needs to be treated with respect and consumed in moderation.

As for the driver's license... I really don't see myself driving my kids around until age 21!!! Am I the only one?

[deleted account]

I agree with Loureen. In the UK the legal drinking age is 18. I think if you're old enough to go to war and be killed (youngest age 17 if your parents consent otherwise 18), have sex and therefore possibly create a life (aged 16), can vote and be charged and jailed as an adult you should have all rights as an adult including the consumption of alcohol .

Heather - posted on 03/23/2010




Sara, thats not true...here is an article on the reason the US set the drinking age to 21. I personally hate alcohol and think the drinking age should be 30 and up...maybe if you have a family and a career, which you more likely do in your 30's, you would be less likely to get in a car and drive drunk lol I know this will never be accepted here...or anywhere for that matter, Its just me dreaming...here is the article...it has nothing to do with your brain or liver....

History speaks for itself and the history of the 21 minimum drinking age law is no exception. As one of the nation’s most scrutinized laws, there is wealth of data on the law’s effectiveness and why it works. (1-7) And it is the history of that law that best illustrates that fact. (8)

For almost 40 years, most states voluntarily set their minimum drinking age law at 21. But at the height of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, 29 states began lowering their drinking age to more closely align with the newly reduced military enlistment and voting age. And of those 29 states, no uniformity in age limits—drinking ages varied from 18 to 20 and sometimes even varied based on the type of alcohol being consumed (e.g. 18 for beer, 20 for liquor).

The results of this “natural experiment” were fairly immediate and hard to miss: The decrease in the drinking age brought about an increase in alcohol traffic fatalities and injuries. So much so that, by 1983, 16 states voluntarily raised their drinking age back to 21—a move that brought about an immediate decrease in drinking and driving traffic fatalities incidents.

Some states, however, kept a lower drinking age. This created a patchwork of states with varied drinking ages that led to what was known as “blood borders”. They were called blood borders because teens would drive across state lines, drink and then drive back home across state lines killing and injuring themselves and others.

Around this time, the nation began taking a firm stance on the issue of drunk driving. And because it was apparent that a 21 drinking age law reduced alcohol-related fatalities and injuries, there was a groundswell to help decrease drunk driving deaths and injuries by raising the minimum drinking age to 21. President Ronald Reagan responded to growing evidence that a 21 drinking age law would save lives.

On July 17, 1984, President Reagan signed into law the Uniform Drinking Age Act mandating all states to adopt 21 as the legal drinking age within five years. By 1988, all states had set 21 as the minimum drinking age, which is where it should remain.

Since that time, the 21 minimum drinking age law has saved about 900 lives per year as estimated by the National Traffic Highway Administration (NHTSA). (9-11) In short, there are more than 25,000 people alive today since all states adopted the law in 1988. That’s about as many people in a sold-out crowd at a professional basketball game or a medium-sized U.S. college.

In fact, the 21 minimum drinking age law has been heralded as one of the most effective public safety laws ever passed. It is also one of the nation’s most examined laws with countless studies that been conducted to measure the law’s effectiveness—all of which have come to the same conclusion: the law saves lives.

Youth drinking rates have also declined since the 21 age law went into effect. The 2006 Monitoring the Future study shows declining alcohol consumption among American youth, although alcohol use continues to be widespread among today's youth. A look at all of the research on the minimum drinking age from 1960 to 2000 found that the bulk of the evidence shows that 21 minimum drinking age laws decrease underage consumption of alcohol. Even over the last 15 years, after the passage of the 21 minimum drinking age laws, the percentage of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders who drank alcohol in the past year decreased 38 percent, 23 percent and 14 percent respectively. (12)

[deleted account]

The drinking age used to be 18. I heard it was moved to 21 because a man's liver is not mature until then. Anyone know if that's true?

Jocelyn - posted on 03/22/2010




I'm in Alberta, with the drinking age of 18, and I don't have a problem with it. I got all my partying done and over with right out of high school. So did (most lol) of my friends. I think that if you can vote, fight, be charged as an adult, then you should be allowed to drink like an adult. I think it's crazy that the drinking age is 21 in the states; even if you don't make it 18, at least bump it down to 19!

Brandi - posted on 03/22/2010




I think 18 is fine to be able to buy a drink. But raise the age in which you can get a drivers license to 21. A fair compromise in my opinion. Teenagers shouldn't be driving around, imo. It's a biological fact that they can't make the judgment calls adults can.

Charlie - posted on 03/22/2010




Well i live in Australia where the drinking age is 18 , if your old enough to be deemed and adult , vote , die and be charged and jailed as an adult you should have all rights as an adult including the consumption of alcohol .

[deleted account]

The biggest argument I ever hear is that if you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to drink in it.
Personally, I HATE this argument. I don't think 18 is old enough to drink or to die for your country. Bash me for being unpatriotic, but I think the enlistment age should be pushed up to 21, then we wouldn't have this issue.

LaCi - posted on 03/22/2010




Drinking age should be 18. Agreeing with something Amy said: if you're old enough to die for your country you're old enough to toast to it.

I had a page of crap typed out, but really, its that simple. enough said.

Brandy - posted on 03/22/2010




I live in Alberta, Canada and the drinking age has always been 18 here. Driving age is 16 but you get your learners permit at 14 so you have 2 years of supervised driving to learn how to drive before being allowed to drive on your own. I don't think there is a problem here with the drinking age but maybe it is different in different places.

[deleted account]

I loved it when I went to Brazil and I was only 19 but the legal age there is only 18 so I came home and told my mom all about it lol...it was fun, I agree that you have to be responsable and that everyone is diffrent regaurding that aspect...

Keisha - posted on 03/22/2010




Where I live (Canada) the drinking age is 19 and the driving age is 16. I think that this works out quite well for us. Alot of laws go against each other... think about it, you cant purchase/veiw pornography until you are 18 but you can legally have actual sex at 16( not that this has anything to do with the convo lol)?? Where I live you cant drink until you are 19 but if you drive a hour you can drink at 18?? Go visit where you live... and you suddenly have to wait 3 more years? It just doesnt make sense! Also they were thinking about making people finish high school before they can get their license here... which would have its advantages and disadvantages I think.

Lady - posted on 03/22/2010




I find 21 a bizzare age too, in the UK it's 18, but I suppose whatever your used to seems normal. I just think that if you are concidered an adult and able to make deccisions about voting and other things then surely you should be able to make deccisions about whether or not to have a drink.

Tania - posted on 03/22/2010




This debate seems odd to me as I live in Ontario and the drinking age is 19 and right across the river is Quebec and the drinking age there is 18.

I agree that responsible drinking begins with the parents teaching their children about the affects of alcohol , but a 35 year old can be less responsilble for their actions than an 18 year old.

I don't know....I think responsilble drinlking is the key.

[deleted account]

I think 21 is a good age to start drinking. The brain is not capable of fully knowing actions with consequences until you are in your 20's. In humans, the frontal lobe reaches full maturity only around after the 20's. The frontal lobe is responsible for cause & effect...

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