On July 17th, 1984 national minimum drinking age act 1984 was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan[i]. This legislation required the state to prohibit persons under the age of twenty-one from purchasing and consuming any alcoholic beverage like wine, spirits, beer, distilled, and liquor. States which went against this legislation received low funds under the federal highway aid act. The 98th United States Congress proposed the National minimum drinking age act 1984 law. It mainly composed of the federal state Senate and organized state representatives. The primary purpose which motivated the implementation of this bill was the need to save human lives. Consumption of alcohol is a significant factor that caused traffic accidents on roads[ii]. It’s noted that a large number of young people lost their lives every year because of reckless driving as a result of alcohol intake. In an attempt to reduce road accidents, the president enacted the legislation. By increasing the drinking age, it was deemed to lower the number of persons drinking alcohol till they reach the lawful age.
The enacted legislation acts a tool for protecting the youths from adverse health conditions that are likely to affect them negatively in the future. Consumption of alcohol can also bring about the use of other harmful drugs, suicidal attempts, complications during birth, just as much crime involvement[iii]. Some youths mainly consume alcohol when depressed or feeling down. At that particular moment, it’s easier for a person to have suicidal thoughts since liquor has already impaired their judgment. High intake of alcohol can as well lead to involvement in a crime, for example, theft to acquire money, which is then used to buy alcohol and harmful drugs[iv]. This legislation has helped in bettering the lives of the youth so that they are not able to involve themselves in situations that will, later on, hamper their life development processes.
The drinking age act directly impacted on social situations like bars and clubs. Only persons over 21 years old were allowed to be in a club setting. Most clubs tend to ask for an identification card before entering. Through taking this step, it has helped reduce the number of underage drinking as well as minor appearances in social events that will most likely corrupt them. However, the rate and number of teenagers consuming alcoholic beverage have slightly risen in other parts of the state. Since prohibition of alcoholic drinks for persons less than twenty-one years, teenagers have grown more curious, and they want to consume alcohol. A survey has shown that most teenagers who are still in high school mainly engage in intense games like beer binge. Due to peer pressure, most of the teenagers find themselves engaging in such activity. Such intense competition brings about a reckless decision that can either lead to unprotected sex or premarital sex leading to unwanted pregnancies, aspects that display the negative sides of the enactment.
Moreover, in campus environments, a large percentage of the students are above the age mark and excessively indulge in alcohol intake. Arguably, there is a high probability that if they were exposed to alcohol in-take earlier, they would have been responsible based on the fact the parents are home to help. The restriction on the drinking age has also brought increased instances of teenagers forging an identity as they sought to buy alcohol, an aspect likely to lead to an increase in cases of crime, evident in their ability to use a false identity.
The drinking age act was later amended to impact the fine rate, and not the drinking age, evident in the reduction of fine. Interestingly, the law did not act out to under aged drinkers but instead to those who purchased it. Later on, some states in the US slightly modified the law by banning underage consumption as well as purchasers of alcohol. The enacted legislation brought both positive and negative results. At the positive side; mortality rate among the youths had slightly reduced, road accidents and traffic incidences were reported to have decreased somewhat, lives of many people were saved given the number of reckless drunk drivers on the road decreased, and social situations only held persons of the legal age[v]. But on the negative side, the increase in drinking age to twenty-one has led to increase in; crime rate among youths who need money to buy drinks and alcohol, drug addiction rates, road accidents, and occurrence of health-related problems like depression and even abortion[vi]. Moreover, teenagers, under peer pressure, hide to indulge in such activities, through which put themselves in harm’s way.
However much the legislation and restriction of the drinking age to 21 came with some benefits, the dangers are far more damaging. It is no doubt the bill was put in place to help take care of the society, but I believe the risks associated with its enactment outweigh the perceived benefits. Raising the drinking age raised the curiosity of the teenagers, who driven with an urge of establishing the contents of the alcohol, falsify their identity. I believe that the age should be lowered to 18 years as it creates a situation where the minors won’t have to hide, and through which will be guided through the stages. Moreover, the guidance will help build a more responsible individual as they approach the age of 21, and therefore take care of themselves when not at home. It should also be noted that at 18 years, they are considered adults who can marry and make family decisions. Similarly, they are old enough to control their involvements concerning alcohol consumption.