Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered?

Josh Farley writes:

Parade Magazine appears to have hit a nerve with an article posing this question: should the legal drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18?

The article, authored by Sean Flynn and published Aug. 12, begins like this:

If a woman is old enough to sign a contract, buy a house and get married, isn’t she also old enough to sip champagne at her wedding? If a man is mature enough to serve on a jury or risk his life in a war halfway around the world, isn’t he also mature enough to drink a beer?

What do you think?

Part of Flynn’s evidence for a resurgence of debate is that those aged 18 to 21 are drinking anyway – in fact, far more recklessly because they’re doing it under the table with other inexperienced drinkers.

That can lead to trouble. But according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (who sent me an e-mail alerting me to the story after it ran), the law has saved about 21,000 lives and cut the alcohol-related fatality rate among that age group in half. Plus, MADD says, an 18-year-old’s brain is not fully developed and alcohol can damage that.

But David J. Hanson, professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Potsdam, has another idea in the Parade article:

“I think we should teach young people how to drink as well as how not to drink.”

That’s the idea behind Choose Responsibility: The group promotes intensive education and drinking licenses for 18-year-olds, akin to learner’s permits for young drivers. Get caught drinking before 18 or break any of the strict rules after that, and the license is gone.

“We’re never going to get rid of underage drinking,” says John McCardell. “But if a kid knows he has to stay clean in order to get a license at 18, that’s a pretty powerful incentive.”

Feel free to leave your own thoughts below.

5 thoughts on “Should the Drinking Age Be Lowered?

  1. Good grief…well, why not?
    Let’s open another can of worms. Teens lead the nation in auto accidents…but we don’t take DUIs seriously and let the drunks go to continue their life of DUI driving.
    If we drop the age limit and add another class on responsible drinking…’teach a kid how to drink responsibly’..adding another bit of silliness.
    We can barely teach our kids to read by the time they graduate…to add a class on responsible drinking will only add another useless credit or two to their scholastic endeavors.
    Once the limit is lowered, the push to drop it another two or three years will begin.
    I vote ‘no’…
    …in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. Better, let’s raise the age for military service and for marriage. I agree that 18 is too young to drink alcohol. I think it’s too young to get married, too. Risking one’s life for your country should not be done by those not yet old enough to drink.

    Even 21 may be too young for some, but we should choose one age for participation in all of these adult activities.

    My first alcohol was a sip of dad’s beer at 7 years old. I’m glad I didn’t like it then, but I grew to like it at 19. It wasn’t hard for a me to get back then, either.

  3. I sipped on wine during the holidays when I was a kid and my dad let me sip on his beer. I agree with everyone in this blog though… HELL NO!

    A BIG can of worms it would be. 18 was the drinking age when I turned 18. I didn’t drink even though I legally could. A couple of years later, it was raised to 21.
    and I did not really drink until I was 26 years old. There was no mystery to it for me, I was never forbidden from it, so I never tried to sneak it.

    Quit making sense Cean! You are so right. If one can be expected to give their life in the pursuit of happiness…they should be enough of an adult to make that decision. You could have not said it better. Kudos!

  4. I don’t think there should be a “legal age.” I think the fact that you have to be 21 makes all those under 21 feel compelled to do it-just because it’s illegal. I drank more before I was 21 than I have since. I guess when you’re 30 getting a hang-over doesn’t feel so cool. Same for cigarettes, let ’em smoke if it’s legal who will think they’re “so cool” when they do it.

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