Editor's note: This article is a part of a head-to-head. Read the other article here.
Louisiana Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, pulled his proposed bill that would lower the drinking age in Louisiana. LaFleur dropped the initiative over potential federal highway funding losses and backlash from other government officials. The bill would have allowed for 19- and 20-year-olds to buy and drink alcohol after getting parental permission and a certificate of completion of a alcohol safety course. The bill was a huge first step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough. The American drinking age of 21 is ridiculous and should be lowered to 18 nationally.
Eighteen-year-olds in America are entrusted with the responsibility to vote in elections, get married, buy firearms and tobacco, fight for this country and serve on a jury, but they cannot responsibly drink a glass of wine at dinner. It is backward and illogical to think they can be an adult in every way except one. It is hard to expect someone to die for our country and not be able to drink a “thank you” beer.
The U.S. is one of the only developed countries in the world with such a high drinking age. Most European countries have a drinking age of 18 or do not have a drinking age at all. The alcohol culture in other countries is much more open and not as taboo as in the U.S. This transparency and openness to consumption at younger ages helps teach young adults and children how to drink responsibly.
It is naive to believe a drinking age will in any way stop underage people from drinking. Seventy percent of students entering college have already had experiences drinking alcohol. Having such an old drinking age forces underage college students to drink in private and over-serve themselves before partying. Binge drinking and pregaming for events could be reduced with a lower drinking age.
Fake IDs are another huge issue that would be solved with a lower drinking age. The use of another person’s ID or a fake one is obviously illegal but is especially prevalent in college towns. Lowering the drinking age would decrease the number of fake IDs in circulation and keep more young adults out of trouble. Louisiana is fortunately one of the few states that allows 18-year-olds into bars, which reduces the number of underage people using fake IDs.
The drinking age was initially raised when the number of drunk drivers peaked in the 1970s. Groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, lobbied the federal government. The government then threatened to stop funding for highway construction, forcing all 50 states to cave and raise the age by 1995. It’s ironic LaFleur pulled his bill because of possible federal government funding threats. History seems to repeat itself.
Drunk driving deaths did decline for young people, but binge drinking in the same age group has increased and alcohol poisoning deaths have tripled.
Bills like LaFleur’s are essential to moving forward as a society and finally treating adults like adults. The drinking age in the U.S. should be lowered to 18 once and for all.
Sarah Grobety is a 20-year-old mass communication junior from Atlanta, Georgia.