Those in favor of lowering the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) from 21 to 18 contend that it has failed to stop teen drinking. In fact, teens are binge drinking in private and less controlled environments, leading to dangerous situations that are out of their control. Those opposed to lowering the minimum legal drinking age argue that teenagers cannot responsibly handle alcohol at such a young age. Therefore, they are more likely to hurt or kill themselves and others by drinking before the age of 21. They also dispute that fatal car accidents decreased when the minimum legal drinking age increased. Despite these findings, I think the minimum legal drinking age should be lowered to 18 years old because the positive aspects that accompany this issue are important: teens drinking more responsibly in controlled settings, fewer deaths of college students from irresponsible binge drinking, and boosting the economy, just to name a few. 18 is the age of adulthood in the United States, and adults should have the right to make their own decisions about alcohol consumption. While the minimum legal drinking age is 21 in all 50 states, in 47 of 50 states the “age of majority” is 18 years old. This age entails the right and responsibilities of adulthood, which often includes the right to vote, join the military, serve in jury duty, sign contracts, marry, apply for loans, make decisions regarding medical treatments, and be prosecuted as an adult, yet it is still not legal to take a sip of alcohol. As it stands, the current drinking age law is largely ineffective because the majority of teens continue to consume alcohol. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, underage drinking accounts for 17.5% ($22.5 billion) of consumer spending for alcohol in the United States. (Califano) In 2006, 72.2% of twelfth graders reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives. (Covey) Those under the age of 21 are actually more likely to be heavy “binge” drinkers. For example, 22% of all students under 21 compared to 18% over 21 years of age are heavy drinkers. Among drinkers only, 32% of under age compared to 24% of legal age are heavy drinkers. (Engs) Refusal to honor the minimum legal drinking age of 21 promotes general disrespect and disobedience of other areas of US law. Minimum legal drinking age of 21 encourages young adults to acquire and use false identification documents to buy alcohol. With today’s national security concerns, including terrorism, illegal immigration, and other threats, it would be better to have fewer fake IDs in use and more respect for the law. (Kleiman) This would also allow police officers more time to focus on real dangers to society. If the drinking age was lowered, there would be more people who would drink responsibly. Although the legal age where you can purchase alcohol is 21, a majority of college students under this age continue to consume alcohol, but in  an irresponsible manner. This is because keeping people in the 18-20 age group from legally consuming alcohol entices them to try this “forbidden fruit”, and especially when drinking by this age group is so common during social interactions. Lowering the minimum legal drinking age would diminish the thrill of breaking the law to get a drink and normalizing the consumption of alcohol would teach people in this age group to drink moderately and in a more responsible manner. If the minimum legal drinking age was lowered, 18-20 year olds would be able to drink alcohol in regulated environments with supervision, which would also lead them to drink more responsibly. Prohibiting this age group from drinking in places like bars or restaurants causes them to drink in unsupervised places like fraternity houses which may be more prone to binge drinking or unsafe behavior. Many would argue that when the drinking age in the U.S. was 18, there were still underage drinkers. There’s not really any avoiding the fact that there will always be people drinking underage, but there would simply be more people drinking responsibly. Lowering the minimum legal drinking age of 21 would lead to fewer deaths of college students. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,825 college students between 18 and 24 die each year as a result of injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol. (Rethwisch) Many college deaths result from alcohol poisoning. If there is a clear need for medical attention at party, it is not uncommon for people at this party to neglect to call an ambulance if there is underage drinking out of the fear of getting in trouble. There is such thing as the Good Samaritan law, which offers legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, etc, but this generally does not cross an intoxicated person’s mind. If the minimum legal drinking age was lowered, there would be fewer deaths or injuries on college campuses because their actions would be legal, and they wouldn’t be afraid to seek medical attention. Lowering the minimum legal drinking age would be good for the economy because more people could legally drink in licensed establishments like restaurants and bars. Revenue would increase for private business owners, and greater amounts of tax revenue would be collected by the government. With the increase in the amount of people allowed to legally purchase alcohol, businesses profits would increase. If there are more successful businesses with increased profits, more jobs will become available for Americans. Hence, more money will be spent to help boost the economy. Increased alcohol purchases bring about more revenue earned from tax on alcohol sales, which will help the government make more money that can be used to fund safe alcohol practices for young adults. (Pennett)Almost every other country in the world has a lower drinking age. According to the International Center for Alcohol Policies, there are only five other countries in the world with a minimum drinking age of 21 (Chile, Egypt, Honduras, Russia and Samoa). The other countries have their ages set somewhere between 16 and 20, and some don’t even have a minimum age. Also, it is proven that there are fewer drunk driving traffic accidents and fatalities in many countries with a minimum legal drinking age of 18. Although the U.S. increased the minimum legal drinking age to 21 In 1984, it’s rate of traffic accidents and fatalities in the 1980s decreased less than that of European countries whose legal drinking ages are lower than 21. (Dee and Evans) According to Karis Rogerson, a college student in America who grew up in Italy, alcohol was a very familiar thing and normalized at a young age. From sipping champagne on New Year’s Eve and being able to buy alcohol the summer after tenth grade, she was never in awe of it. For her, coming to America was a bit of a shock because suddenly it was illegal to touch alcohol. The thought that going out for a drink could result in death — how have we, as a culture, come to a place where that is an acceptable and normal thing to worry about? It does not have to be that way. “My friends in Italy didn’t spend their weekends going out to get drunk for the fun of it. My friends in America think getting drunk is a high form of entertainment, possibly the highest.” Maybe if they had been exposed to drinking at an earlier age, it would not present itself as such and intoxicating and unreachable thing. If the drinking age in America were lower, maybe children would be forced to experience drinking for the first time with their parents and in the safe places like their own home. Italian children are familiar with alcohol from a young age and when they are allowed to buy it at 16, it doesn’t become as much as a temptation as it does for American children. “By the time I turned 21 and was allowed to legally drink in America, I had been drinking for years. I had tasted beer, whiskey and wine. The prospect of going out to get a drink didn’t thrill me to my core — it was more like being able to go see a movie.” Italian children are allowed to buy drinks while they are still under their parent’s control. This gives them the say to limit when their children can drink and how much they can drink, as well. By the time Americans are legally allowed to buy alcohol, they are independent and can drink whatever and whenever they want. And that’s a lot of power that they weren’t raised to handle. (Rogerson) Keeping the minimum legal drinking age 21 is not realistic. We need a change: lower the drinking age to 18. Since alcohol is a reality in young people’s lives, we need to wake up and make the law more realistic. If you can gamble, vote, live on your own and fight for your country, you should be able to have a drink. It would lead to more responsible drinking, and more responsible drinking leads to greater overall safety. So I say, cheers to that!

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