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A description of the drinking age in the united states as a contradiction

Meghan Reilly, Legislative Analyst You asked for information about the drinking age in Connecticut, specifically policies around lowering the drinking age, the impact on federal funding, and the states considering lowering the age. Recently, some college presidents across the nation have pushed for a lower drinking age, arguing that 21 is an arbitrary age that does little to ensure the safety of young people.

Opponents of a lowered age cite reduced youth fatalities and teen drinking as positive benefits of the current law. We found one law linking federal funding to state drinking ages, the National Minimum Drinking Act of 1984, which ties federal highway funds to a minimum age of 21.

  1. In fact, concerns about youth drinking have been the main vehicle for expressing concerns about alcohol problems in general at a continental level, such as in the European Union.
  2. The instructions for the instrument explained the voluntary nature of participation in the study as approved by the Indiana University Human Subjects Committee. Societies are less authoritarian, marriage and family formation occur later, and young people have more money in their pockets.
  3. As students progress through college, they are more likely to drink, but to do so in moderation, and are less likely to experience drinking problems. A movement then began to extend other rights and privileges of adulthood to those aged 18; between 1970 and 1975, 29 States reduced their minimum legal drinking age 50.
  4. Failing to have a full-time job by the age of 25 may be seen as equally inappropriate as holding a full-time job at age 12.

In 1972, PA 127 lowered the age from 21 to 18. A year later, PA 83-508 raised it again to age 20.

Finally, PA 85-264 raised the age of majority for liquor purchases to 21, where it has remained since that act's effective date, September 1, 1985. While many arguments exist for and against the establishment of the drinking age at 21, several arguments have been more popular in recent endeavors.

  • Among the New England college students, 29 percent of the men and 11 percent of the women were classified as heavy drinkers 16 , and among these students, more than half reported problems related to drinking, such as blackouts, fighting, and trouble with authorities 17;
  • The age for obtaining a driver's license is higher in most parts of Europe than in most parts of the United States;
  • Underage alcohol possession charges for 18- to 20-year-olds disappear;
  • Some reports link excess drinking to sexual assault.

Support of a Lower Age Some college presidents across the country have spoken out in recent years in favor of a lower drinking age.

In 2008, over 100 college presidents, including five in Connecticut, publicly called for a reconsideration of the drinking age law.

Illegal norms

The Connecticut college presidents represent Fairfield University, St. They point to the contradiction of deeming adults under 21 capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries, and enlisting in the military, but not mature enough to consume alcohol http: While opponents of a lower drinking age point to a decrease in highway fatalities, supporters claim that the drop actually began in the late 1970s, before the federal drinking age set in, and may be better explained by safer cars, increased seat belt use, and increasing awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.

They point to data showing that the highest risk age for an alcohol-related auto fatality is 21, followed by 22 and 23, as an indication that delaying exposure to alcohol until 21 may not be the safest way to introduce individuals to alcohol http: Mothers Against Drunk Driving MADD argues that lowering the drinking age would lead to more fatal car crashes and accusing the college presidents of misrepresenting science and looking for an easy way out of an inconvenient problem.

MADD officials have urged parents to think carefully about the safety of colleges whose presidents have signed on. A NHSTA report says that in 1982, there were 10,270 drivers under the age of 21 involved in fatal automobile crashes. Forty-three percent were deemed to have been drinking prior to their crashes. Connecticut saw an 88.

Access Denied

Opponents also argue that the current minimum drinking age laws decrease underage consumption of alcohol. By 1988, all states had complied.

  • Is the 21 drinking age working?
  • Vermont had a proposal to create a task force to study this issue;
  • All states fell in line, including Virginia in 1985;
  • Drinking in Relationship to Age Many studies have examined drinking patterns and problems in relation to age;
  • What is the best way to handle the discrepancy—which exists in Europe as well as in the United States—between the actual ages at which teenagers start drinking and the age at which the behavior becomes legal?
  • Alcohol-related fatalities have steadily declined.

Previously, the legal purchase age varied from state to state. In a 7 to 2 decision, the Court held that indirect congressional action encouraging state policy was constitutional.

Kentucky, Wisconsin and South Carolina considered lowering the drinking age for military personnel. Missouri considered a ballot initiative to lower the age to 18. A South Dakota initiative would have allowed individuals age 19 and 20 to purchase low-alcohol beer.

Vermont had a proposal to create a task force to study this issue. Minnesota legislators filed a bill allowing anyone over age 18 to buy alcohol in bars or restaurants. None of these proposals were enacted http: