Why the Legal Drinking Age Should be 18
An actual coherent argument, not the pleas of an underage student who wants to get drunk.
By Juliana Neves, Loyola University
Look, I know what you’re thinking: Here’s another girl with no respect for the law who’s just itchin’ to break into the local scene and get frizzled.
What I actually want to do is propose some reasonable benefits of lowering the drinking age to 18, which doesn’t even mean access to bars, just the ability to purchase alcohol. I would be open to the bars thing, though.
As far as I can tell, there are two main arguments against lowering the drinking age. The first sounds a lot like someone saying, “You’re not old/mature enough to handle alcohol.”
Let’s analyze this for a minute.
By the age of 18, you’re expected to do very mature things like drive and vote. In the upcoming election, voting is not simply the action of an involved citizen, but an Earth-protecting failsafe necessary to prevent the United States from self-imploding.
Ladies and gentlemen, the King of Comb Overs, Donald Trump is running for President.
Whether the federal government likes it or not, the fate of this country lies in the hands of the youngest batch of voters who—*crosses fingers*—have at least the tiny bit of common sense needed to vote against Donny T. If the federal government can trust us with the task of protecting the country, we should be able to have a beer.
Another thing you can do by the time you’re 18? Drive. But if you’re like most kids, a few months before your driving exam, one or both of your parents probably took you to an empty parking lot to practice 3-point turns and parallel parking.
No parent wants their kid going into a driving test cold turkey. It might not be legal, but if a few runs around the lot saves the Hover Board Harry crossing the street, it’s for the best.
The same goes for alcohol. No parent wants their kid going to the bar ordering bourbon when they meant Budweiser. Although it might not be legal, parents should be able to test the waters beforehand so their kids are prepared.
If the drinking age is 18, those test drives would happen at home, not at college. It would be safer and more controlled, salvaging a parent’s sanity and a kid’s liver. There’s enough experimenting going on at college, let’s keep alcohol to a minimum.
The second argument, which has a lot in common with the first, essentially has to do with the fact that restricting something makes it much more tempting. When someone tells you not to touch something, it makes you want to touch it, right??
People want to do what they’re not supposed to, ask a psychologist. There’s some type of intoxicating adrenaline that comes from doing exactly what we’ve been told is bad for us.
That’s why college freshmen look like Animal House (or 21 Jump Street for us younger folks), and college seniors look like geriatric patients, quieter and more peaceful than their younger counterparts.
Why, you ask? Simple. Drinking has lost its appeal, its rush because it’s legal. The adrenaline of Prohibition disappears when you can buy boxed wine at Walmart.
If the drinking age were lowered to 18, that adrenaline and need to transgress taboo would disappear. College students wouldn’t feel the need to get blackout drunk, because alcohol wouldn’t be the holy grail of risk-taking behavior.
As a result, colleges wouldn’t have to go Inquisition on students caught drinking. Instead of punishing every student caught with a beer can, they could focus any student in a trash can.
Whereas now authorities are punishing the future backbone of suburbia, future soccer moms having a glass of Chardonnay after the kids are asleep, with smarter laws the cops can target and intervene on students with legitimately dangerous drinking habits. College staff would have less paperwork and more free time to focus on the important things.
Plus, if the drinking age were lowered and legal drinkers were allowed into bars, albeit in a controlled fashion, college towns and cities would see a boom in revenue.
Instead of students seeking cheap alternatives like hiding in their dorm room with a shaker of rubbing alcohol, they might go out to bars. And what would they do at bars? Pay for that $15 Cosmo because it’s worth it. College students are pretty cheap, but alcohol is different ballgame.
Colleges themselves could potentially take advantage of this outpour of money. On weekends, colleges could have dances, or party-like functions that serve alcohol in the hopes of getting students to stay on campus. Although it could easily turn into a Mom’s “Pinot and Paint Night,” wine is wine.
Lowering the drinking age to 18 turns the 20s into the 30s for drinking. Ragers become get togethers, parties become hangouts and “let’s blackout tonight” turns into “two glasses is enough for me.” Lowering the drinking age makes alcohol a little more boring.
Sip on that.