EQ: Will lowering the drinking age result in an increase of drunk driving accidents/fatalities?
Background: The current drinking age for every state in the U.S. is 21, but that age is being challenged. The drinking age is not a national law rather a state law that the government has a tight grip on. In order to keep all the states to uphold the drinking age of 21, the federal government created the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. This act states that federal funding for transportation will be taken away if the states do not enforce a minimum drinking age of 21. Many are in favor of this drinking age because people under the age of 21 are not responsible enough to undertake the consumption of alcohol. Some say that the drinking age set at 21 lowers the number of drunk driving accidents, as stated by the NHTSA, “legal drinking age and traffic accidents found higher legal drinking ages associated with lower rates of traffic accidents.” Similarly, there is an opposing side where some believe that the drinking age should be lowered because of other rights that are given at the age of adulthood (which is most states is 18-years-old) i.e. voting, join the military, marry, etc. The opposing side argues that not allowing those under 21 to drink legally, it doesn’t stop them from drinking, just increases binge drinking.
Claim: Lowering the drinking age would not increase drunk driving accidents because by allowing those under 21 to drink it teaches them how to drink responsibly. Controlling how and where the drinking is done can decrease the number of accidents related to alcohol. At the age of 18, as an American, you are given many new rights: the ability to vote, join the military, serve on a jury, smoke cigarettes, etc. so drinking isn’t any different.
Support: Allowing those under 21 to take on the responsibility of consuming alcohol will also promote the respect of other federal/state laws. This is because with the drinking age so high, those under are drinking illegally and therefore unresponsively. Imposing a new, lower age will eliminate the illegal drinking. Although some protest that lowering the drinking age will increase alcohol related accidents, the age and driving is not in correlation. In the 2009 Drunk Driving Statistics, it was stated that two years before the Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed the driving fatalities were already decreasing in number. Considering that the age was not 21 at the time shows that the fatalities do not rely on the age.
“Lowering MLDA 21 would reduce the number of underage people who are hurt from alcohol-related injuries or accidents due to fear of legal consequences if they sought medical attention.” (Choose Responsibility, “FAQs,” http://www.chooseresponsibility.org) Letting those under the age of 21 drink legally will hence reduce accidents. The fear of being caught for drinking under age makes the illegal drinkers not choice to seek help when needed. Knowing that they could seek help would eliminate the risk of accidents related to alcohol because the necessary assistance would be available.