Should Legislators Lower the Drinking Age?

Penn State Debate Society recently addressed questions surrounding the drinking age:

For lowering:

Andrea Hetrick (freshman-psychology) spoke as the Prime Minister for the “government” position and cited State Patty’s Day as an example of how the drinking age has proven to be unenforceable. The 586 students she said were admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center on the alcohol-driven holiday was one of many statistics she used as evidence of a failed drinking age policy.

Against lowering:

A central argument of the opposition was that those who can legally obtain alcohol often provide it for their underage friends, who are a few years younger in some cases. Trice said if the drinking age was changed to 18, when people are considered legal adults, alcohol would be passed down to 15- and 16-year-olds — an even graver situation than 19 and 20 year-olds who illegally obtain alcohol.

2 thoughts on “Should Legislators Lower the Drinking Age?

  1. Eric Paine says:

    Most states in the nation adopted a minimum drinking age of 21 soon after federal passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, which required states to maintain a minimum drinking age of 21. Under the Federal Aid Highway Act, States were required to enforce the minimum drinking age of 18 in order to avoid a 10% reduction in federal highway funds. The original intention of the law was to reduce the incidents of alcohol-related accidents among people under 21. But since passage of this legislation, and the raising of the drinking age in many states, the percentage of people who drink between the ages of 18 to 20 has skyrocketed. Many say the prohibitions have actually encouraged secretive binge drinking, more dangerous behavior, and less educational programming targeting this age group. Respected law enforcement officials and university presidents have recently called for changes in the federal law to permit states to lower the drinking age.

    At age 18, people are legal adults. As much as their parents may think otherwise, they are no longer children. They have the right to vote and help choose the President of the United States. They can go to war to defend our country, and they can legally purchase guns and cigarettes. It is absolutely absurd that they cannot have a beer or glass of wine without fear of possible arrest and prosecution.

    It’s time for the nation to repeal these Prohibition-era laws and adopt a more intelligent, progressive, and educational approach to drinking among younger adults. These laws simply don’t work, they aren’t enforceable any longer, and if anything they are counterproductive. Literally millions of responsible young adults are already consuming alcohol and that’s not going to change. What we need to do is stop wasting the taxpayers money chasing, charging and prosecuting responsible young adults who want to have a beer, and start putting the money where it ought to be, in promoting smart education about responsible drinking, and in pursuing far more serious criminals, including those at all ages who drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

    Eric Paine
    President & Founder
    Drink At 18

  2. Andrea Hetrick says:

    I want to clarify that when I gave that debate speech, I was not arguing favor of lowering the drinking age. I simply argued that it was a failed policy. Actually, in that debate, my teammate argued that it may be smart to raise the drinking age.

    Additionally, I want to make it clear that the views I expressed during the debate do not necessarily reflect my personal opinions.

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