Discuss: The Minimum Legal Drinking Age should be 21

The Minimum Legal Drinking Age should be 21


Drinking in youths is the main cause of death resulting from injuries, which is the dominant cause of fatalities in individuals below age 21. According to the Center for Disease and Prevention, raising the minimum drinking age nationwide has led to a reduction in vehicular collisions and an improved concentration in schools for young adults. The CDC also connects the minimum legal drinking age to reliance on drug and alcohol, self-inflicted injuries, violence, rape, and adverse birth conditions. Alcohol is also the chief cause of unsafe sexual conduct and increase the threat of physical and sexual violence. However, some people challenge the raising of the minimum legal drinking age arguing that it is impractical to prevent 18- year olds from buying alcohol, since they are already legal adults that have more important rights such as the right to vote and enlist in the military. Raising the minimum drinking age gives young people the time to mature and learn to batter handle their consumption of alcohol, it also leads to reduction of accident,  uninterrupted brain development, and gives them a future free from addiction and other long term injuries.

Arguments for Raising MLDA to 21

Reduction in Road Accidents

Drinking by individuals below the age 21 is a major pandemic since it leads to death from alcohol poisoning, accidental injuries including car collisions, scalds, tumbles and even drowning (Williams, Harris & Karpf, 1983). It is also strongly connected to suicide and viciousness including fighting and rape. Based on reports and findings by the CDC, the States that raised the minimum legal drinking age to 21 experienced an estimated 16 percent decrease in vehicular accidents. Reduction of the minimum legal drinking age has led to an overall reduction in alcohol usage (O’Malley & Wagenaar, 1991. For instance, the percentage decreased from 70 percent in 1985 to 56 percent in 1991. Evidently, increasing the minimum legal drinking age to 21 one saves the lives of the youth and helps them secure a better future free from addiction.

Brain Development and High Risk Behavior

Consumption of Alcohol also leads to adverse changes in brain development and poor performance in schools (Carpenter & Dobkin, 2011). Alcohol Policy states that alcohol disturbs the maturity of the brain, which is still growing and developing during adolescence. Youths also have a proclivity to conjoin drinking with other perilous undertakings snowballing the probability for inadvertent harm to themselves and other innocent by-standers (Birckmayer & Hemenway, 1999). These detrimental consequences of alcohol on young individuals advances inquiries about the sufficiency of existing laws in efficiently restricting exposure to and consumption of alcohol by young people. There was a substantial rise in hospital admission of inebriated people under 20. This corroborated connection between increased minimum legal drinking age and poor decision-making by the youth infers that increasing the minimum legal drinking age for alcohol can possibly reduce incidents of the youth in accidents.

Brighter future

Consumption of alcohol in the youth robs them of their future. The detrimental effects of what the youth do today can persist until later in life. The youth are the most vulnerable to dependence on alcohol. Consumption of Alcohol usually inspires taking of other hard drugs leading to more severe case of drug abuse, especially in the youth. Drinking significantly increases the vulnerability of individuals to cancer. The early drinking adversely affects education of the youth. Alcohol consumption in the youth leads to reduced focus in their education and poor performance in school and reduced number of dropouts (Zhang & Caine, 2011). Therefore raising the minimum legal age of drinking is tantamount to giving back the youth their future.


An estimated 35 percent of youth report the inability to stop drinking once they started. This leads to alcoholism in the youth. Alcoholism is the incapacity to regulate drinking due to both a physical and a psychological dependence on alcohol (Voas, Tippetts  & Fell, 2003). The youth normally engages in binge drinking which is statistically the highest cause of alcoholism and heavy drinking. Alcoholism is a major cause of fragmentation of social networks in the community since it is one of the leading mitigating influences in domestic abuse (Carpenter & Dobkin, 2011). According to the reports by the World Health Organization, approximately 55 percent of domestic abuse offenders were drinking before the altercation.

Arguments for lowering minimum legal drinking age

Reduced trust in the youth

Prohibition of drinking in the youth has led to an obstinate culture of secrecy and abuse to develop around underage drinking and an increase in immaturity with appalling consequences for everyone (Carpenter  & Dobkin, 2011). However, lowering the drinking age would not make the world perfect. Prevention of drinking in 18 year olds has therefore led to reduced trust of the community in the youth causing them to engage in drinking in secrecy. Bringing down the drinking age would have the enduring advantage of developing a tradition of drinking that stimulates accountable and refined sobriety. Human beings are bound to behave as grown-ups if you handle them as grown-ups. The public can’t even start dealing with the issue of early drinking while it still treats its adults as children. This would significantly foster trust between the youth and society leading to mature conversations and actions where drinking is concerned.

Makes drinking unsafe

In cases where an underage excessively consumes alcohol and becomes sick, their friends avoid pursuing medical aid since they fear being implicated (Miron & Tetelbaum, 2009). Furthermore, outlawing the purchase of alcohol to individuals below the age of 21 is more likely to promote binge drinking. For example, most university students are incapable of purchasing their own alcohol they make their friends, relatives and even strangers to get it on their behalf. However, these individuals are not always around. This insufficiency of a consistent stock makes underage alcohol users more likely to binge when alcohol is obtainable. Bringing down the drinking age would help alleviate these consequences. With a consistent source, young alcohol users are less inspired to binge drink and any accidents resulting from binge drinking are promptly reported and succored.

Violation of Rights

Reducing the minimum legal drinking age is a blatant desecration of civil rights (Wagenaar & Wolfson, 1994). It is illogical and unfair that young individuals with the right to choose and elect political leaders, choose a life partner, sign binding business contracts and enlist in the military at 18 but cannot openly purchase an alcoholic drink.  The policy makers may have been forced into this conservative law by individuals concerned about the prevalent cases of drunk driving, who with all noble intents were erroneously interfering with issues in the realms of individual choice. Furthermore, the law is not being enforced leading to its constant disregard.The existing structure which prohibits alcohol to individuals under 21 is generally disobeyed with severe recursions. Educating individuals to drink sensibly before 21 would significantly improve public health. Recently, university students consider perilous excessive drinking as a rite of passage. The law was meant to reduce the numerous traffic deaths caused by young drivers which could have been done by stricter enforcement of traffic rules. It has however not reduced drinking.  This law has succeeded in denying young people safe spaces where they can drink affordable alcohol, mingle, converse and flirt in an unrestricted but controlled public surroundings.

Delayed accidents

The presence of learning-by-doing raises the alarming likelihood that guidelines designed to prevent young people from engaging in alcohol consumption led to drunk-driving death hazards to occur young adulthood (Voas, Tippetts & Fell,  2003). For the 12 states with an MLDA of 21 from 1971, the road accident danger rose for youth’s age from 16 to 18, marginally decreased through age 20 rose again at 21, and then declined progressively. This evidently shows that the raising of the minimum legal drinking age to 21 merely postpones the accidents caused by excessive drinking. The exceptional age comparison outlined in states with an MLDA of 21 proposes that deferring alcohol accessibility postpones the mortalities related with drunk-driving (Williams, Zador, Harris & Karpf, 1983). This data infers that the countrywide escalations in MLDA may have simply moved some of the death threats from teenagers to young adults. Therefore, lowering the age limit would give the youth the freedom and latitude to responsibly drink alcohol and reduce the fatalities of drunk driving at an early age.


Despite the law having been around for 30 years, the minimum drinking age remains a recurrent topic of political debates. Keeping the minimum drinking age at 21 significantly reduces the incentives for binge drinking which is the main cause of alcoholism. This also makes sure that the youth grow to be responsible adults free from long-term effects brought about by poor decisions such injuries caused by accidents , dropping out of school and addictions.

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