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United States Passed a National Law

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In 1984 the United States passed a national law that required all states to impose laws restricting the purchase and possession of alcohol in public places to people under the age 21. This law is referred to as "The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984". Due to all of the accidents caused by drinking among people between the ages of 18 - 20, a provision was attached that required all states to comply or they would face a reduction in the federal funds allotted to them for the maintance of their highways under the Federal Highway Aid Act. Many felt that the provision on the national law was a form of blackmail. As a result it created a huge controversy over the issue and lead to the debate of whether or nor the legal drinking age should be 18 or 21 years old.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the 21 year old minimum drinking age law is needed in order to reduce the number of fatalities caused by young adult drivers (U.S. Department of Transportation, 1996). Those that are in favor of keeping the legal drinking age law the same claim that people between the ages of 18 - 20 are not mature enough to tell when they have reached their tolerance level, which causes them to make irresponsible decisions while under the influence of alcohol. Supporters of the law say that the main irresponsible decision made by many young adults while intoxicated is to operate a car. When this is done it increases the chances of them harming themselves and others if too much alcohol has been consumed before operating a vehicle. The problem that we find with this argument is that this is a irresponsible choice made more by drivers above the age 21 than those under the age of 21. Based on information I collected from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of drunk driving amongst people between the ages of 21 to 25 was at 23.4% compared to the people between the ages of 18 to 20 which totaled out to be 15.1% (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration, 2011). This is a 8.3% difference that proves drunk driving accidents are not as high among people under the age of 21 as they are for people ages 21 and older. The issue is not with people ages 18 - 20 drinking and driving, the issue is people of all ages not making responsible enough choices.

People that are fighting for the legal drinking age to be lowered argue that a person is legally considered an adult once they hit the age of 18 years old according the United States law (Huffington Post, 2009). Under this law it states that once a person reaches the age of 18 they are entitled to and obtain the same legal rights and responsibilities as any other adult. The rights acquired by those reaching the age 18 includes the right to vote, get a drivers license, consent to marriage, file taxes if no one can claim them as a dependent, allowed to make their own decision which they are liable for, held accountable for crimes in the court of law, allowed to establish credit, sign up for the military, and even enter into legal binding contracts such as renting or leasing an apartment; but are not able to legally purchase or consume alcohol in public establishments. Those in favor of lowering the law feels if a person is able to gain the full rights and responsibilities of adulthood at 18, then they should have the ability to purchase and consume alcohol like any other legal adult. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2010 that drivers between the ages of 21 - 24 had the highest percentage rate for having a BAC level of .08 or higher that totaled out to 34%; while people between the ages 16 - 20 was recorded at almost half the



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