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The Drinking Age 21 For Everyone Essay

, Research Paper

The Drinking Age: 21 For Everyone?

Mike Bilyeu

In the United States, the legal drinking age for all 50 States and the

District of Columbia is 21 years of age. The drinking age is 21 because the

powers that control our government decided that when one becomes 21, one is

magically transformed into a responsible person capable of handling the burden

that comes with the right to consume alcohol. The drinking age is too high in

this country. Why enact laws to prohibit an act that will be ignored by many of

our peers?

The opposition may say that the higher drinking age discourage teenagers

and young adults from consuming alcohol. They say the laws that force merchants

to refuse to sell alcohol to persons under 21 years of age will help stem the

“problem” of underage consumption. They believe this will make it virtually

impossible for people under 21 to obtain alcohol. The opposition also believes

that the laws against underage consumption of alcoholic beverages will dissuade

young people from drinking alcohol.

The laws that prohibit merchants from selling alcohol to persons under

21 are hard to enforce. Even if they are enforced by the authorities, the

establishment that breaks that law is rarely punished severely. For example, in

Belmont County in Ohio, the police conducted raids of 5-10 different

establishments in 1993 that had liquor licenses and reportedly to sell alcoholic

beverages to minors. It was proven that each business in question had indeed

been guilty of the charges. What would one suspect happen to the business?

Wouldn’t one expect for them to lose their liquor license? On the contrary,

these businesses were given probation without so much as a fine.

Also, even if the person under 21 cannot go buy the alcohol himself

because he is refused by a merchant, he can find an adult and give them the

money needed to purchase the alcohol and have them purchase it for them. This

is especially active around college campuses, where it seems to be an accepted

practice for seniors, who are generally over 21, to go and purchase the alcohol

for the underage drinker. If a person did not want to go through the hassle of

asking an older person, they could go someone skilled in the art of making fake

ID’s. This is a burgeoning business among the different campuses I visited.

Spending two weeks at Ohio State, one had the offer of three different authentic

looking Ohio driver’s licenses. So, as one can see it is quite easy for an

underage drinker to obtain alcohol.

One may think that the penalties for underage drinking would be severe

while in fact they are quite light unless one is unfortunate enough to be

arrested for DUI. The penalty for being convicted of underage consumption is

generally a slap on the wrist for offenders. They usually are required to pay

court costs and attend an alcohol rehabilitation counseling session.

Finally, why can other countries condone the act of consuming alcohol as

a young person when it is such an “immoral” act in the United States? In many

other countries it is a widely accepted practice to drink a glass of wine or

other alcoholic beverage with their meal. In this way, they learn moderation.

If people in the United States learned moderation at a young age, then they

would be less apt to binge drink (drink just to become drunk). This would

result in far fewer deaths from alcohol related causes since more people would

know how to imbibe without excess.

Obviously then the law is not working. Why keep a law that cannot be

enforced? If the repercussions from the act of breaking the law are few and

light, Why retain the law at all? The legal drinking age in the United States

must be lowered now. If young people in other countries can handle the

responsibility of drinking, why can’t it be the same for our country?

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