Lowering That Pesky Drinking Age

27beer01_190Ah, one of the touchiest topics in our society today, whether or not to lower the “non-mandatory” federal drinking age from 21 to 18. The first thing that comes to mind when someone approaches me about this topic, is why someone is adult enough to fight, kill, and die for this country, can vote for the leadership positions in this country, can vote for change on state and federal issues, will go to jail as a adult if you commit any crimes, and get married, yet were not “adult” enough to be responsible with an alcoholic beverage.

With that being said groups like MADD state that statistics have shown that adults between the ages of 18-20 have a higher drunk driving accident rate, and that when the drinking age was lowered in 29 states to 18, 19, or 20 from 1970-1975 and those same adults that had the privilege to drink, more often than not drove drunk and caused the majority of the accidents on the road which involved alcohol.

Both sides of this law make a point and just lowering the drinking age to 18 will not solve anything. The true debate is about the safety of the American people, my family and your family, statistics have shown just lowering the age will probably worsen things. “But what about Europe, their drinking age is 18 and they are ok”. Yes and no, there drinking age is 18 but it has been part of their culture for a long time so it isn’t as much of a “forbidden fruit” like it is here, but don’t get it twisted in the UK and many other European countries alcoholics exist, drunk drivers exist, having a minimum legal drinking age of 18 doesn’t solve your societies drinking problems.

So what is wrong with lowering the drinking age to 18? Nothing, But I feel that just saying here you go and lowering the drinking age to 18 is irresponsible as a country. Most of us have been there, your 18 or 19 in college and you want that forbidden fruit so we over drink and it becomes part of our lifestyle for the 4 years or so before your 21. Then when most people turn 21 they loose that excitement and leave that binge lifestyle behind but there are a lot of adults that keep the binge drinking lifestyle because of what they learned in those key years.

I think this is the time we should be educating those adults in the 18-20 age range with information about drinking and allowing them to partake with alcoholic beverages with other adults. Just like sex education for teens in high school, and a learner’s permit for those 16 to drive, what should be proposed is having an alcohol license for those 18, and to get that license they need to take and pass an alcohol education class. I think a lot of groups such as M.A.D.D are missing out on a golden opportunity to help knock out two problems with under age drinking.

First you can help control the situation by issuing standards for those 18 that want to drink and secondly you are educating a group of young people about the effects of alcohol and drinking responsibly. Then once you pass this class and obtain a license, maybe it will only be good for specific time periods as well as a maximum alcohol by volume content of the beverage and the person needs to be accompanied by someone at least 21. This isn’t the perfect solution but over time this could expand and stipulations would change. I don’t think many people are ready for or will vote on a immediate change from 21 to 18 but a process like this would allow those adults 18-20 the right to enjoy responsibly an alcoholic beverage and begin learning and appreciating well crafted quality alcoholic beverages.