Opinion: Give 18-year-olds the right to drink

Jeffrey Windham, Staff Reporter

This article is from a two part debate on the legal drinking age.


Since the United States government already grants 18-year-olds so many rights as adults, the federal legal drinking age at 21 is an unnecessary restriction, and should be lowered to 18.

The federal government already trusts 18-year-olds to buy rifles from licensed dealers, tobacco and tattoos.

18-year-olds are tried as adults for any crime, must register for selective service, serve jury duty and pay taxes. You can enlist in the military, vote, get married, and obtain licenses to operate heavy equipment. You also have access to credit and are responsible for all debts.

If young adults want to drink, they can and will illegally obtain alcohol.

Prohibition in the United States constitutionally banned the production, import, transport, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. According to PBS, during this period people continued to drink, crime increased, court and prison systems were overwhelmed, and tax revenues fell because alcohol was sold on the black market.

The legal drinking age keeps young adults out of bars and clubs, but if they want to drink, they can and will illegally obtain alcohol.   

The nationwide drinking age was raised in 1984 when the federal government enacted the National Minimum Drinking Age Act ordering states to raise their drinking age to 21 or lose up to ten percent of their federal highway funding.

According to Alcohol Problems and Solutions, a website that has been “debunking myths and sharing effective peer-reviewed ways to reduce drinking problems” for more than 20 years, the average legal drinking age around the world is less than 18. The United States is one of only a handful of countries that force citizens to wait until the age of 21.

Underage drinking is common at colleges and universities and could be the introduction to alcohol for many people. Everyone should be able to learn how they react to alcohol in safe environments like the home, where they are not encouraged to over indulge.

Alcohol can easily be abused, but that goes for all ages. You’re an adult at 18 and should be able to buy and drink alcohol.