The American government states that a person must be at least twenty-one years of age to consume alcoholic beverages. However, it is in fact legal for someone to serve alcohol at age eighteen. The purpose of this paper is to research whether or not it is just for these laws to exist. The prevailing question is how can the government allow people between the ages of eighteen and twenty years old serve alcohol to people twenty-one and over when they are not allowed to consume it themselves? When faced with writing this paper, I pondered many things.
Such as: If an eighteen year old is permitted to do just about anything they desire, why are they not permitted to consume alcoholic beverages? Does the twenty-one year old drinking law encourage irresponsible drinking habits? Are there any alternatives to the twenty-one year old drinking law? Is this law prevalent in other countries around the world? And finally, I questioned my own feelings on the topic. When one turns eighteen, he or she is then presented with a plethora of responsibilities.
An eighteen year old is allowed to purchase cigarettes, vote for government positions, join the armed forces, handle guns and other ammunition in the military, and make other major adult decisions. It is legal for a person to have sexual intercourse with another adult, which in turn can lead to bringing another life into this world. At eighteen years old, a person can no longer be charged as a minor. They are seen as mature adults in the eyes of the legal system.
All of these responsibilities are bestowed upon a person when they turn eighteen. However, they are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages. “The minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) of twenty one in the United States is commonly seen as a highly successful public health measure” (Hornseth, 428). It does, however encourage excessive drinking and possible alcohol abuse in teenagers. Most teenagers go through a rebellious stage where they want to do everything they possibly can to rebel against authority.
Many teens want to go against the norms and laws of society and give into peer pressure. Most underage drinkers obtain, “fake id’s” which is a form of photo id that states they are in fact twenty-one years old. Many bars and connivance stores are aware of the fact that these ids are not legitimate. However, in the hopes of better business, they allow the teenager to purchase alcohol. Several of my friends have already turned twenty-one. They tell me that in some cases, “the thrill is gone.
When it’s perfectly legal to consume alcohol, they are not doing anything wrong, thus taking away the fear of getting caught and the excitement of getting away with it. In Europe, there is no legal drinking age. A friend of mine is baffled by American teenager’s fascination of, “getting wasted. ” American teenagers engage in the practice of, “binge drinking”, whereas they drink for the sole purpose of getting drunk. This activity can lead to alcoholism, aggression, and alcohol poisoning. If parents taught their children how to drink responsibly, this problem would not be as prevalent.
If underage drinking were not considered a social more, it would most likely seem less exciting to teenagers. In an article regarding lowering the current minimum legal drinking age, Elizabeth Wheeler stated, “Prohibiting the sale of liquor to responsible young adults creates an atmosphere where binge drinking and alcohol abuse have become a problem” (Wheelan, 14). She educates her daughter in the dangers of alcohol and how important it is to drink responsibly. She stresses the risk her daughter takes every time she drinks.
There are date-rape drugs out on the market now that are easily slipped into a drink. These drugs are colorless, odorless, and tasteless, they make a person feel as if they are drunk, however, the next morning that person cannot recollect anything that happen the evening before. By her daughter knowing that she supports her, it makes her daughter less likely to engage in excessive alcohol consumption. The chancellor of the University of Colorado at boulder noticed that trying to cease underage drinking had failed.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “The chancellor has started a campaign to allow 18 to 20 year-olds to drink alcohol after receiving an instructional course on responsible drinking. Park has tried to promote his plan to Colorado’s Congressional delegation where it met with cool reception from some legislators. Colorado has a 21 year-old drinking age like every other state but some college administrators like Park’s plan because it emphasizes moderation over abstinence” (Gose, 29). I feel that Chancellor Park’s idea should be implemented on college campuses across the country.
The fact remains that the majority of college students are already drinking by the time they turn 21, most of which are drinking irresponsibly. If students learned the dangers of drinking and how to drink responsibly, it can not only increase safety on college campuses, but minimize the amount of students who abuse alcohol as well. Personally, I feel that if the government deems it legal for one to serve alcohol when they are eighteen, they should also be allowed to consume it as well. When a bartender or store clerk sells alcohol to a minor, they are breaking the law.
This can lead to fines, shutting down the establishment in which the alcohol was served, or getting detained by the police. How is it a law stating that an eighteen year old can be faced with all of these punishments for serving alcohol to a person of the same age they are? This law is a blatant double standard. It is analogous to the proverb, “you can look, but don’t touch. ” By allowing an eighteen year old to serve alcohol, you are placing them responsible for all of the individuals who are consuming alcohol. Now I ask you, “Does that seem appropriate?
My answer is no, it does not. I feel that if a person is legally responsible enough to take responsibility for all of the patrons in a bar or connivance store, they should be allowed to consume that beverage as well. Most college freshman is eighteen years of age. They are choosing the track they will be on for the next four years of their lives, ultimately leading to a career. If they are expected to make a major life decision such as that, why cannot they choose whether or not they want to sit down at a bar and have a drink?
There is no logical answer to this question. The only defense that I feel is valid for this law to be enforced is that it lowers traffic accidents. Drunk drivers cause the majority of deadly traffic accidents. I am a strong believer in the fact that drunk driving is not only wrong, but also reckless. A good friend of mine is presently in a coma due to a drunk driving accident. Her boyfriend picked her up from a friend’s house to go pick up her things for soccer practice. She was unaware of the fact that he was drunk, and he ran a red light.
He lost control of the car, and it flipped over twice before crashing into a tree. She was not wearing her seat belt at the time, therefore causing severe brain damage. This happened five years ago, and she is presently breathing on her own, but in a comatose state. This situation has caused pain for her family, friends, and all the people who knew her. Situations such as this could have been averted if the driver of the car was taught how deadly driving drunk could actually be.
Most teenagers feel that just because they are young, they are invincible. A course in responsible drinking could make young people aware of the fact that no one is too young to die. In writing this paper I was challenged to examine my own feelings on this subject and also research expert opinions. After all of this, I feel that if a person if considered mature enough to serve alcohol, they should also be allowed to consume it as well. I hope that in reading this paper, it opened up your mind and made you question some of your feelings as well.