Lowering the legal US drinking age just makes sense

Pixabay

Pixabay

Dani Heba

In the United States, anyone can vote, risk their life to sign up for the U.S. military, sign contracts, be prosecuted as an adult and get themselves into irreparable debt at 18 years old.

However, people cannot legally drink alcoholic beverages until they are 21 years old. It’s past due for the United States to change this backward thought.

The United States is one of only 12 countries globally to have a minimum legal drinking age of 21 and is the only western nation to have such a restriction. An overwhelming number of 116 countries have a minimum legal drinking age of 18 or 19.

From a moral standpoint, it only makes sense for the United States to lower its drinking age to 18 years old. It doesn’t make sense for the country to justify allowing people, once they turn 18, to enroll in the military and put their lives on the line for others, or to enroll in college and enter insurmountable levels of student loan debt, but somehow argue that at 18 years old they are still too young to drink a beer.

Statistically, fewer drunk driving accidents and deaths occur in countries with a minimum legal drinking age of 18.

In the United States, 31% of car accidents result from driving under the influence, or DUI, the third-highest rate in the world. In Germany, where the legal age to drink is 16 years old, and in Russia, where the legal age to drink is 18 years old, this rate is 9%. China, which has no minimum drinking age, sees its rate at 4%, according to Sand Law, a law firm in North Dakota.

Clearly, the issue is not the minimum legal drinking age. Cultural factors, such as how normalized drinking is and how drunk driving is viewed, can be factors.

When responsible drinking is normalized from a young age and driving while under the influence is scrutinized, drunk driving can be curbed. Germany, Russia and China are examples of this.

Some also argue that laws in the United States regarding drunk driving aren’t strict enough in comparison to those of other countries.

According to the Law Office of Douglas Herring, in Russia and South Korea, having a blood alcohol content of .02% and .05%, respectively, can get one booked on a DUI. In other countries, “zero-tolerance” policies are enacted that revoke driving rights for those convicted of multiple DUIs within a specific timeframe.

Keeping the minimum legal drinking age at 21 incorrectly assumes that the law is respected.

The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 24.8% of youth aged 14 or 15 drink alcohol, 46.7% of youth aged 16 or 17 drink alcohol and 68.3% of those aged 18 to 20 drink alcohol.

This means that an overwhelming majority of people under 21 drink alcohol anyway. There’s no point in ruining someone’s life over underage drinking when responsible drinking habits can be promoted from a younger age at 18.

In addition, setting the minimum legal drinking age to 18 can promote drinking in safer environments.

Many times, teenagers will get their drinks from shady sources and consume drinks in unsafe environments. This new age limit would promote drinking in more responsible environments, such as bars or restaurants, rather than on the street or in some stranger’s house.

Not to mention the positive effects it would have on revenue for small restaurants and bars, which have been suffering during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The government will also be able to collect taxes from the sale of those drinks, generating extra funding for essential
services.

It’s past time for lawmakers in the United States to acknowledge that a minimum legal drinking age of 21 is nonsensical. It’s time to get with the program of the rest of the modern world by setting the minimum legal drinking age to 18.