In 1984, Congress passed the National Minimum Purchase Age Act, to encourage each state to enact a minimum legal purchase age of 21 by 1986 for the purchasing of alcohol. As a result, an estimated 1,071 lives were saved in the year 1987 alone. (Hall) Ever since that act has gone into play, there has been a decreased number of DWI arrests, youth suicides, marijuana use, crime, and alcohol consumption by youths.
Although there is all this evidence showing how many lives we have saved by increasing the drinking age to 21, there are there some people who argue that the drinking age should go back to 18. These people argue that if a person is able to vote, be drafted to fight in a war, and drive a car they should be able to consume alcohol. I guess they just arent looking at the big picture and seeing how much the 21-year-old drinking age has helped.
High school seniors who could not legally drink until age 21 drank less before age 21 and between ages 21 – 25 than did seniors in states with lower drinking ages. Similarly, a national survey of 16 – 21 year-olds found that teens from states with a higher legal drinking age
drank less frequently. (Hall) This is significant because for teens, alcohol-impaired drinking is the leading cause of death for teens between the ages 15-19. (Why teens use Alcohol) If there are less teens consuming alcohol, hopefully that will lower the alcohol related deaths in teens.
The younger a person begins using alcohol, the greater chance of developing alcohol dependence or abuse some time in their life. Of those who begin drinking at the age of 18, about 17 percent are classified with alcohol dependency and about 8 percent with alcohol abuse. If a person waits until they are 21 before drinking alcohol, these risks decrease by over 60 percent. (Hall) The earlier a person begins using alcohol, the greater the risk of current and adult drug use and harm to the developing brain. (Hall)
All of this hits close to home. Last March, two of my friends got into a car accident at 5 Oclock in the morning coming home from a party where alcohol was served. The driver didnt make it. If there are still teenage drinking accidents when the legal drinking age is 21 then why would we lower the drinking age and make it easier for teenagers to get a hold of it? More than 40 percent of teenage
deaths occur in motor vehicle accidents, 38.9 were alcohol related crashes. Between 1985 and 1995, the proportion of
drivers 16-20 years who were involved in fatal crashes, and were intoxicated, dropped 47 percent from 23 percent in 1985 to 12.7 percent in 1995. (Teens and Drunk Driving) Each day 11 teenagers are killed because of alcohol-influenced car accidents.Also, about 400 teens are injured each day in alcohol related car accidents, and there are 130,000 injuries to teen drivers each year. (Why teens use Alcohol)
Something else that people who want to lower the drinking age bring up; the fact that the Europeans dont even have a drinking age, but according to the American Medical Society, regarding Europeans and alcohol use among youth, research confirms that Europeans have rates of alcohol-related diseases (such as cirrhosis of the liver) similar to or higher than those in the U.S. population. However, drinking and driving among youth may not be as great a problem in Europe as in the U.S. Compared to their American counterparts, European youth must be older to obtain their drivers’ licenses, are less likely to have a car, and are more inclined to use public transportation. (Minimum Legal Drinking Age)
I think that the National Minimum Purchase Age Act was a good thing to pass. From the research I have looked at, everything looks positive. There has been a 63 percent
decrease in alcohol-related crash fatalities among teenage drivers, a decrease in marijuana use, crime, and alcohol consumption by youths at all.