Us Drinking Age Argument 3752


Underage drinking is a big problem today inAmerica and is only getting worse. According to the CDC, “excessive drinking isresponsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.” Todayit seems like kids are starting to drink at a much younger age, which can beincredibly dangerous. Lowering the drinking age from 21 to anything below wouldbe an extremely irresponsible and deadly choice. Statistics show that a youngerdrinking age is known for more fatalities. The majority of teenagers don’t knowhow to handle their alcohol in a responsible manner, leading to many potentiallydangerous situations. The drinking age should remain at 21 and not be loweredin the US. In this essay, I will tell you the main reasons the drinking ageshould remain at 21. These include the rule saves lives, the brain doesn’tfully develop until at least 21, and many consequences result from drinkingearlier in life.

The most important aspect of keeping thedrinking age at 21 is that it saves lives. “Minimum Legal Drinking Age lawssave approximately 800-900 lives each year in reductions in traffic fatalitiesinvolving young drivers” (James C. Fell). Drinking and driving is the biggestproblem associated with underage people drinking. It is proven that the largestamount of people who drink and drive are under the age of 21. Teens just aren’tresponsible enough to understand the serious dangers that could occur withdrinking and driving. The 2015 Youth Risk Behavior survey found that among highschool students, during the past 30 days, 20% rode with a driver who had beendrinking alcohol. Before the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Actof 1984, the legal age when alcohol could be purchased varied from state tostate. Many organizations didn’t approve of this and pushed for the drinkingage to be set at 21. Due to these outcries, President Reagan signed theaforementioned National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. “Traffic reports showa 61 percent decrease in alcohol related fatalities among drivers under 21between 1982 and 1998” (Ethan Trex). It’s proven that this law saved lives whenit was enacted and it still saving them now, so there is no reason for it to belowered now. Lowering the drinking age would just put lives in danger andsignificantly increase the amount of deaths associated with drinking. Research published by the Journal of Studies on Alcohol andDrugs states, “although many young people disobey the drinking age, theevidence shows that it has depressed drinking and saved lives.” It is true thatteens still drink despite of the law but lowering it would cause even more ofthem to drink which would produce deadly results. Many other countrieshave their minimum drinking age set below 21. The experiences of those othercountries show that the federal government decision to enact the law was a goodone. In 1999, New Zealand lowered its drinking age from 20 to 18, and theresult was a dramatic increase in automobile crashes. European countries havesignificantly lower drinking age laws and studies show that 10% of Europeansare linked to early death or bad health because of drinking alcohol. If allthese studies show that other countries have issues with minimum drinking agelaws then why would we want to change it in the US and risk the consequences.“If the minimum drinking age is lowered to 18 in the US, the result would begreater availability of alcohol to those not only to 18-20 year olds but alsoto those younger than 18. Studies in the U.S have shown that lowering thedrinking age from 18 also increases alcohol related crashes for 15-17 yearolds” (James Fell). Having the drinking age lowered results in even youngerteens being affected by the dangers of alcohol use. Thesimple fact is that the 21 law saves lives and is, therefore, nonnegotiable.

Other than the 21 law just saving lives,the human brain doesn’t even fully develop until at least 21. More and more research has been released in recent yearsconcerning the stages of brain development. Studies have shown that thebrain does not finish developing until a person is in their early twenties. During this period, alcohol negatively affects all parts ofthe brain. It is not coincidental that fatalities increase as the drinking agTheeis lowered. “Brain maturation culminates in the prefrontal cortex. Thisis the area that controls judgements and weighing risks and consequences”(Karen Arnold-Burger). This means that this area of thebrain is not developed until the age of 25 and those under are more likely toengage in thrill seeking activity, and less able to appreciate the consequencesof risky behavior. Alcohol impairs judgement and heightens risk-takingbehavior as well as slowing perceptual and motor skills, so given to a personwho has an immature brain function in these areas already, research shows that the effects are even more exaggerated.Knowing this it is clear that it is extremely dangerousto lower the minimum age for drinking and have alcohol more accessible toteens. The adolescent brain is a work in progress, marked by significantdevelopment in areas of the brain responsible for learning, memory, complexthinking, planning, inhibition, and emotional regulation. The neurotoxic effect of excessive alcohol use is a danger tothese key regions of the maturing adolescent brain. “Research indicates thatthe human brain continues to develop into a person’s early twenties and thatexposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long-lasting effects onintellectual capabilities” (David J Hanson). Mixing in alcohol withteens whose brains are still developing wouldn’t be a smart move, and the 21law keeps alcohol from the hands of those teens. People on the other side arguethat since the legal age to get married, to vote, and to fight in a war iseighteen then drinking should be as well. However all those things that peopleare able to do at eighteen aren’t harmful to ones or others well-being orhealth, drinking is. The affect alcohol can have on a younger persons body ormind is extremely different from those legally allowed to drink. People underthe age of 21 just aren’t responsible enough to drink yet since their brainsaren’t even close to full development yet.

Another reason for keeping the drinking ageat 21 is there are many different consequences from starting to drink at ayounger age. If people are predisposed to alcohol at a younger age, the amountof problems that are associated with it are endless. Drinking alcohol at thelegal age cause result in issues so drinking even younger than that can be ahuge problem. The CDC states, “youth who drink alcoholare more likely to experience school problems, social problems, legal problems,physical problems, physical and sexual assault, memory problems, abuse of otherdrugs, and a higher risk for suicide and homicide.” For every year wedelay the onset of drinking, studies have shown we substantially increase thelikelihood that children will never have a problem with alcohol or drugs.Drinking greatly increased the number of unwanted pregnancies and sexuallytransmitted diseases among young people. Drinking before 21 also results in thehigher chance of being violent or being involved in violent activities. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse andAlcoholism, “up to 86 percent of homicide offenders, 37 percent of assaultoffenders, and 60 percent of sexual offenders were using alcohol at the time ofthe crime.” Binge drinking is a major problem with younger people. Thechances of becoming a binge drinker later in life are higher for those whostart drinking before there 21st birthday. When considering thatadolescence is a time of rash decision making, the dangers of legalizingalcohol among minors become that much more palpable. Drinking with youngerpeople also increases the risk of depression and suicide. Data from the 1990-2004 US Multiple Cause of Death files andthe US Census and American Community Survey states, “there were more than200,00 suicides and 130,000 homicides among people who turned 18 between 1967and 1989, the years during which the legal drinking age was still moving.”With all these risks, it is apparent that keeping the drinking age at 21 is thebest choice and lowering it would put teens at risk.

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With all the consequences that lowering thedrinking age would have on people, it is clearly evident that the minimumdrinking age should remain at 21. I’ve explained the reasons that the drinkingage should stay at 21: it saves lives, the brain doesn’t fully develop until atleast 21, and many consequences result from drinking earlier in life. Iencourage you to support this law when debating whether or not the drinking ageshould be lowered. The lives and wellbeing of many young people are at stake ifthe age were to be lowered, repealing it would be a grave mistake.

Works Cited

  • @meredithcm, Meredith Melnick. “Study: Another Reason to Keep the Drinking Age at 21.” Time, Time, 16 Nov. 2011, 
  • “CDC – Fact Sheets-Underage Drinking – Alcohol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 
  • Lopez. “Sorry, College Students, but the Drinking Age Should Stay at 21.” Vox, Vox, 19 Jan. 2016, 
  • “THE TOP FIVE REASONS WE SHOULD KEEP THE DRINKING AGE AT 21.” Regional Prevention Center, 14 Jan. 2009, 
  • “Why Is the Drinking Age 21?” Mental Floss, 8 Apr. 2018, 
  • “Why the U.S. Legal Drinking Age Should Be Kept at 21.” Our Thinking About Drinking,



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