Can I See Your ID? Essay

This essay has a total of 1540 words and 9 pages.

Can I See Your ID?

Can I See Your ID?

The introduction of young people to beverage alcohol varies considerably in different
cultural settings. In many societies, the age at which the purchase and public consumption
of beverage alcohol becomes legal is also the age at which other "adult" rights and
responsibilities are bestowed. What is neither clear nor consistent is the age at which
this should occur. Communities recognize the capacity for alcohol to be abused,
particularly by young and inexperienced college students. The imposition of a legal
drinking age limit is one aspect of a society's desire to reduce the potential for harms
associated with inappropriate drinking patterns. Believe it or not, students who are under
21 do drink. Every weekend, students armed with fake IDs go out to intoxicate their
worries away while at the same time attempting to avoid the dreaded Minor In Possession
tickets and the Department of Public Safety. Tougher punishments and regulations seem to
have little effect on the number of people who are willing to risk legal ramifications for
a drink. The government can help ease the fruitless struggle between students and
University officials by lowering the lawful drinking age to 18.

At the ripe age of 18, you must enlist to Selective Service. This, meaning that you must
tell the government that you are a man now and that you can fight for the country you live
in if needed. Seeing how I can go die for my country at the green age of 18; I feel that I
should be able to have a drink when I want to. It may seem unfair to many observers to
allow 18-20 year olds to marry, to have children, to own cars, homes and firearms and to
be financially and socially independent, and yet to be legally prohibited from drinking a
glass of wine in a restaurant, or even a glass of champagne at their own wedding. Current
laws regarding underage drinking do not make sense. In 1984, Congress enacted the National
Minimum Drinking Age Act, which required states to enforce a drinking age of 21 or risk
losing some federal highway funds (Engs). The act was originally established to prevent
inexperienced drivers from crossing state lines to drink legally and driving back drunk to
their home states (Engs). However, the genius behind the minimum age act does not apply to
the University. Most students do not have cars on campus and those that do are often over
21. Moreover, drunken driving laws that did not exist in 1984 proved to be successful
deterrents.

Normally one does not reach the legal drinking age during college until about their junior
or senior year. Yet, through personal experience and research have shown that more
drinking is done in the first years of college. A lot of excess baggage comes with the
first year in college, and many students are overwhelmed by and under prepared for the
excitement and risks that they will encounter during their first year at a university.
From classes to sex, from relationships to drinking, from religion to social clubs,
students decide the order in which to try them. Many will notice that there are only laws
governing one of these activities, thus drinking becomes the first social pastime in which
students engage. The thrill of entering a college bar where mom and dad cannot bear
witness to the illegal activity of underage drinking can excite somebody, but it can also
be responsible for his ride in the ambulance later that night.

The solution that lawmakers and people in power find when those who are underage get sick
or die from the effects of alcohol is to tighten the reigns on the sovereignty of bars by
restricting the customers whom they can honor to a specific age group -- a hypocritical
act of discrimination. Their solution is wrong, as laws will still be broken and people 20
years, 364 days and younger will continue to consume alcohol. The answer to the problem of
underage drinking is not to add more restrictions. Rather, it is simple: get rid of the
"underage" part. A study printed in the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education has found
that the lower drinking age has not really posed a problem for underage drinkers (96).
This study also found that only 1.5% of their sample (6 students) agreed that the
availability of alcohol was presenting a problem for them and their drinking habits
(College Health Survey 96). "Raising the drinking age has had little positive impact on
the university population in regard to alcohol consumption level" (College Health Survey
96).

The increased drinking age now forces colleges and universities to spend money, which is
drawn from grants, government funding, tuition money, and taxes, on an issue that they
never paid much attention to before. The Combating Underage Drinking program is just one
of the many programs set aside for this cause (United States Justice). This program gives
each state $360,000 to put to programs for the prevention of underage drinking (United
States Justice).

With the thrill of breaking the law gone and the access to the bar granted, people,
especially college students, in the 18 to 20 age group would be treated like the adults
that the U.S. Constitution says they are. A wave of moderate drinkers would emerge because
it would become a societal norm for adults to enter a bar and have a drink at their own
discretion.

All of the assumptions that college students and their contemporaries are not responsible
enough to drink legally are fabricated by those who are worried that a lowered drinking
age will lead to a greater number of alcoholics. Not only has that not been proven, but it
is also intended to scare the general public. The fear that a person of voting age cannot
responsibly drink has become more widespread among the baby boomer and older generations,
but for no apparent reason other than to impose a twisted sense of "morality" on a younger
generation to which they were not subjected.

They will tell you that times have changed and that is why one cannot legally drink at 18
anymore. Nevertheless, college freshmen are college freshmen, whether they entered school
in 1968 or 2002. They will engage in the same activities, do the same amusing things,
study as much (or as little) and party as hard. True, times are more complicated, but when
certain rights are the norm, then tragedies such as fatalities from drinking and driving
can be avoided. Our society must not look to punish and restrict, but to promote and
accept. Treating legal adults like actual adults is the first step.
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