Is the U.S. Minimum Drinking Age Too High?

Should the U.S. minimum drinking age be 21 or something else?

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Should the U.S. minimum drinking age be 21 or something else?

Haley Wolfenbarger, Opinion Writer

The minimum legal drinking age in the U.S. as we all know is 21—which is among the oldest age restriction in the world—but why? And is it a good idea or a bad idea? The minimum legal drinking age was standardized at 21 in 1984. Advocates for lengthening the minimum age did so because research shows it’s better for the brain’s development. And if you were to drink any younger, it could stunt brain development. But if we are really concerned about mental development, then why are we allowing toddlers and young children to consume sugary snacks and drinks, which have also been proven to show developmental harm? They may have different results, but both lead to the lack of mental development. So what age should the legal drinking age be?

For most people, the brain fully develops by the age of 25, meaning those who are drinking at 21 are still contributing to reducing their mental growth, which leads me to believe that drinking at any age younger than 21 makes no difference in developmental health. Another reason for the minimum legal age to be 21 is that it supposedly reduces traffic accidents, yet there has not been much change in car accidents since changing the drinking age. About 30% 0f car accidents are from drunk drivers, 27% being of legal drinking age, and 17% of underage drinkers. While that may be because of the restrictions for teens under 21, there are still quite a few more crashes caused by those of legal age, also considering the fact that if a teen wants to drink, they will find a way to do so. I believe that the legal age should be 25, and as much as that may not be the most pleasant idea, we must understand the facts about drinking contributing to worse mental development. 

It is unfair to teenagers of the age of 18 to require them so much responsibility, like voting and taxes, but to not allow them to drink is also unfair. I’m not promoting the idea that teenagers should drink, but I believe that the legal age of adulthood should be the legal age you can drink, vote, and be required to pay taxes. Most eighteen year olds are not mature enough to require this amount of responsibility so soon in their lives while at the same time restricting them from other adult things. It doesn’t seem very fair and causes more rebellion among teenagers. 

Some may be against the idea of 25 being the legal adult age because it’s pushing back young people from feeling grown up, but feelings don’t equal fact. You can’t just make an underdeveloped person a legal adult, considering they are not mature enough for adult responsibilities, but I believe 18 is the perfect age to start preparing them for adulthood, and training them for future responsibilities, such as how to vote properly, buy a house, or pay taxes. To train these things to someone any younger will just overwhelm them. By the time someone turns 25, they can then jump into adulthood with a better handle on responsibilities required as an adult because they’ve learned how to do these things without any restrictions. And because their brains are fully developed, it makes it all the more better!