Underage drinking: Denied privilage or bad idea?

Tully McKinley

In 2005 almost 4,500 teens died in car crashes. Another 400,000 were injured that year in accidents so severely that they had to go to the emergency room. Of those involved in fatal accidents, over 30 percent were found to be intoxicated. Now stop to imagine what would happen if anybody 18 or older could legally drink.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, turning 18 is one of the biggest steps someone can take in life; they can vote, and they can join the military. a lot go off to college and some move out. They can buy and smoke cigarettes legally, play the lottery, and they can be tried and convicted as an adult. That’s a lot of new responsibilities, and a lot of 18 year olds don’t seem to handle them all that well. There’s a reason that ages 16 to 21 are the most expensive for car insurance.

With all of the new responsibilities out there for them to deal with, most new adults simply pick and choose what they think they can handle at the moment. Most don’t vote, and don’t even register, and fewer are trying to live on their own right out of high school. If most people at 18 don’t think they’re ready to live alone, why should they be ready to drink? They shouldn’t, because they aren’t.

At 18, some people have the mental and physical maturity to handle alcohol. Most don’t. Be honest with yourself, at 18 were you prepared for hard liquor? Didn’t think so. A lot of people aren’t ready even at 21, but the 3 year buffer from the “old” freedoms of driving and being a legal adult are enough in most cases. A little more maturity goes a long way toward preventing stupid mistakes like drunk driving, and a little patience never hurt anybody.

Then there’s the other big year: 21. That year only comes with a couple of freedoms, drinking and gambling, but they’re arguably more important than almost any of the ones gained at 18.

If you’re an irresponsible voter, nothing really happens. If you’re an irresponsible drinker, you can die. People ruin their lives with gambling and alcohol, and 18 is too young to let them get started on that.

If you really take the time to look at the people around you it’s obvious what a difference three years can make. Take high school for example: Compare yourself as a senior to yourself as a freshman. Look at the way you changed how you walked, how you talked, what you thought about, how you dressed, and all of the other things that changed. Then consider how maturity plays a role in that.

Odds are pretty good that at 15, most of us wouldn’t know what to wear to a job interview without help. At 18, almost everyone has had at least one job, and are already on the way towards finding a career. If you’re really honest with yourself, you typically realize that you aren’t ready for new freedoms as soon as you get them.

That’s why the drinking age is and should be 21.

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