EQ: Will lowering the drinking age result in an increase of drunk driving accidents/fatalities? (Morgan)

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.

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12 Comments

Filed under Controversial Issue #1

12 responses to “EQ: Will lowering the drinking age result in an increase of drunk driving accidents/fatalities? (Morgan)

  1. Justin Clements

    Your blog post is very informative. I find it very scholarly, your support goes along with your claim very well

  2. Caoimhe Harvey

    I agree, also, let’s be honest, it’s not that difficult for a minor to obtain alcohol nowadays. People in the US between the ages of 12-20 consume 11% of the alcohol in the US. (http://www.edgarsnyder.com/drunk-driving/underage-drinking/underage-statistics.html)

    • Morgan Gilberti

      Absolutely. The minimum drinking age is very ineffective throughout the U.S. “According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, underage drinking accounts for 17.5% ($22.5 billion) of consumer spending for alcohol in the United States.”(National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, May 2006)

  3. Christian Encarnacion

    I completely agree with you. Many countries, Germany for instance, have proven that legal drinking age and alcohol related accidents, although correlating well with each other, do not subject to the uncertainties of causation, as in statistics one can not essentially say that one variable causes that of another but rather that they influence each other to some degree. It is also indeed true that children and young adults learn from their past mistakes, so that if a young adult learns the effects of alcohol that said young adult will learn to “drink responsibly” (as you put it) and essentially learn the do’s and don’ts of alcohol consumption, which will in turn call for a better alcohol informed nation. A person will only want something more if you take his/her ability to use it away, whereas if you allow its use then its usage will cease to become an every now and then activity.

    • Morgan Gilberti

      I agree, taking away the right to drink legally creates a taboo for young adults. Allowing them to drink, at say 18, will only make it a more common activity rather than something they have to do behind the law enforcement’s back.

  4. Kenneth Nevarez

    I disagree with the lowering off the drinking age because in lowering that age the younger people would be put in danger because they could easily be manipulated by predators in bars waiting to take advantage of the new patrons who are influenced by alcohol easily.
    “Lowering MLDA 21 to 18 will irresponsibly allow a greater segment of the population to drink alcohol in bars and nightclubs, which are not safe environments. 76% of bars have sold alcohol to obviously intoxicated patrons”(Patrick O’Malley and Alexander C. Wagenaar, “Minimum Drinking Age Laws: Effects on American Youth,” Institute for Social Research, http://www.monitoringthefuture.org)

  5. Benjamin Adkins

    You make several good points and your argument is well crafted. I also agree in lowering the drinking age, but only with raising the driving age, like Germany. In America, teenagers learn how to drive around 15 or 16. When growing up, these same teenagers hear about all the wonderful things about drinking and alcohol. When they reach the drinking age, or are in a situation where alcohol is readily avalible, they tend to over do it; they don’t know their limits, they don’t understand its effects, and they don’t know when they are dangerously intoxicated. Teenagers learn how to drive and are then presented the oppertunity to drink that wonderful stuff they hear about. If we switch it, drinking age first, driving age second, teenagers learn about how to control their alcohol before they get in the drivers seat.

  6. Judy Sanchez

    I agree the drinking age should be lowered, because it would teach them how to drink responsibly. Personally i feel that if you can make your own decision and serve the military you should also be able to make the decision on whether you can drink.

  7. Matt M.

    I completely agree with your claim. I find that when it comes to legal drinking age, Germany is a role model that the US should follow. Because teens can drink at the age of 16, but cannot get their licence until they are 18, they learn to drink responsibly before they learn to drive. In the united states, drunk driving kills hundreds of people every day. This may be provented if we adopt a similer method when it comes to legal drinking age.

    • Morgan Gilberti

      I agree that this course of action could also prevent accidents from happening. It allows young adults to learn how to drink responsibly, then they will have the knowledge of the do’s and don’ts before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

  8. Sean Andrade

    Lowering the drinking age would not increase the number of drunk driving accidents, but reduce the number by a significant amount. This is because younger people will not see drinking as something really great, thus they will not see drinking to be something marvelous when they first are legally allowed to. If people start drinking from a younger age than they will become more responsible with when and where they should drink. The current drinking age system in the U.S. allows young adults who have already been driving since they were 16 or so to consume alcohol and they are not prepared for it’s impairing effects. It can be seen in many European countries that with a lower drinking age and a higher driving age, the casualties caused by drunk driving are significantly lower.

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