Although many countries around the globe have the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) laws, USA is one of only four, which sets 21 as the legal age of consumption (Archer). Although the law is not new and has been in place for more than 30 years now, it continues to be widely debated. On the one hand, the proponents of MLDA 21 demonstrate the statistics proving the relevance of age limit for traffic safety and consumption (Fell 3). On the other hand, those who advocate for the lowering of legal drinking age point to the obvious inconsistency in law where adulthood and multiple rights demanding responsible choices come to people at the age of 18 (Archer; Geltman; Fulton).
The major argument of the proponents of MLDA 21 is that the effectiveness of the policy is documented. Namely, the report of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that the rate of young alcohol-impaired drivers in fatal traffic crashes between 1982 and 1998 decreased by 59% (Fell 5). What this report does;t take into to account are the increased anti-drinking and driving education and seat-belt use efforts and tougher penalties for driving when intoxicated. Yes, there may be an overall decrease in fatal accidents involving alcohol, but what about alcohol poisoning?
The prohibition of drinking does not eliminate the practice, but makes young people acquire the experience in an uncontrolled and irresponsible way. Expert suggests that while fewer young people of 18 to 21 might be drinking, binge drinking and “secret” drinking have become much more common (Archer). A concerning statistics, published in The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs in 2009, indicates that between 1998 and 2005, the number of cases of alcohol poisoning deaths among those aged 18 to 24 almost tripled, having increased from 779 to 2,290 cases (Glaser). Moreover, being not able to experiment in a safe environment, the young people simply do not know what the reaction of their organism to this or that amount of alcohol would be (Geltman). In addition, excessive drinking on frat parties is associated with sexual assault and date rapes.
What supports the argument is that drinking at the age of 21 does not seem to be a responsible practice. In particular, the statistics shows that twice as many 21-year olds dies in alcohol-related road accidents than 18-year-olds (Archor). Therefore, the real problem might be not the young age, which does not allow consuming alcohol with due responsibility, but the lack of understanding of the responsibility or lack of experience. When most adolescents are under the supervision of parents and enjoy their support, is more suitable for learning to drink than the age of 21, when many students move from parents to live on campus.
What is more, it seems true that teaching responsible drinking with the involvement of legal mechanisms and parental support will result in the more responsible drinking by the age of 21 than prohibition to consume until this age.
The main concern of traffic safety overall can be overseen by the rest of the statistics of alcohol poisoning and lack of knowledge and responsibility of 21 year olds.