Lower the Drinking Age in the United States

The laws for alcohol consumption and use in the United States have changed several times over the past century. The United States has tried prohibition as well as laws requiring a specific age for legal alcohol consumption. None of these measures have had a significant impact on the purposes for which they were designed. For this reason, it would make sense to lower the legal age for alcohol consumption back to the age of eighteen.
One of the major reasons it makes sense to lower the legal age for alcohol consumption is because children at the age of eighteen are considered adults. The responsibility given to eighteen year olds includes many opportunities to make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. Registration for the draft is one of the requirements for all citizens at age eighteen. Even if a person is not actually drafted, the idea that an individual is responsible enough to go to war, carry a firearm, or launch nuclear weapons implies that an eighteen year old is making the same decisions as any other adult.
Another right extended to eighteen year olds is the opportunity to vote. The idea that this right is given at the age of eighteen demonstrates trust in the ability to make decisions reserved for adults. Other examples of decisions that can be made at eighteen include smoking, body piercing, and getting tattoos. All of these choices deal with decisions that could impact the body for a lifetime. Smoking is also addictive in the same way as alcohol. Why is smoking a legal choice at eighteen, but not drinking alcohol? If children are trusted at the age of eighteen to go away to college and make their own decisions as “adults,” why are they not responsible enough to go to a bar or go to the liquor store? These so called “adults” are responsible to be trusted in serious decisions, but are not allowed the right to consume or purchase alcohol until the age of twenty-one.
A second reason that the legal age for alcohol consumption should be lowered is based on the success of other cultures in dealing with this issue. In many countries around the world there is no legal age limit in place. Children as young as five are allowed to drink wine and it is not uncommon to see alcohol served daily as a part of the dinner menu. It is the norm to see children drink wine at a communion service, at a special event, or even in a public event. Several studies show that these cultures have had a significantly small number of problems with alcoholism and drinking and driving incidents. It is my belief that if drinking wasn’t considered such a “taboo” behavior and was simply a way of life, the preoccupation with alcohol would lose its appeal.
The final reason that the age limit for alcohol consumption should be lowered is because their is virtually no difference between an eighteen year old and a twenty-one year old. The only thing a twenty-one year old can do that an eighteen year old cannot do is drink and purchase alcohol. What significant changes are made when you turn twenty-one? There are also many people under twenty-one that consume alcohol regardless of the law. Research shows that the number of drinking and driving infractions is the same between people over twenty-one years old as in people under the age of twenty-one. If the issue is drinking and driving then we need to change or enforce driving laws instead of drinking laws. People definitely need to assume responsibility for their choices and their actions.
Eighteen year olds should be treated as adults in all situations. Lowering the age for alcohol consumption would enable eighteen year olds to make appropriate choices for their lives. They should be given the opportunity to make these decisions in the same way they are allowed to make other serious choices on a regular basis.