Apr 172008

(U-WIRE) CINCINNATI – A note to everyone living under rocks: laws are made, laws are broken and most laws come under some sort of scrutiny. Despite the illegality of underage alcohol consumption, underage people still drink alcohol.

Fueled by concerns for “youth rights,” and for the rights of young men and women serving in the armed forces in particular, several states are considering their options when it comes to lowering the legal drinking age.

Kentucky, South Carolina and Wisconsin legislatures are considering lowering the drinking age for military personnel only, while Minnesota, Missouri and South Dakota are looking at a variety of options that would lower the legal drinking age across the board. Vermont is assembling a task force to study the issue. According to a 2007 Gallup poll, 77 percent of Americans oppose lowering the drinking age. Furthermore, less than 100 people have signed an online petition to lower Ohio’s drinking age to 18 years of age since it was created in March 2007.

Some parties feel that people from the age of 18 to 21 drink heavily simply because they are told not to, that it is a “Don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge” sort of thing. We all know how that turned out.

Choose Responsibility – a non-profit group aiming to empower young adults to make mature decisions about alcohol consumption – is headed by John McCardell, one of the most vocal supporters of lowering the drinking age.

McCardell said he believes the Legal Age 21 policy is directly responsible for the increase in binge drinking, which he said occurs in a “much more risky and much less safe environment.”

“More lives are being lost each year to alcohol among 18- to 24-year-olds than have been allegedly saved by Legal Age 21 since it’s been on the books,” McCardell said.

As sad as it is, people look up to and emulate things that older people do. Twenty-year-olds drink because they hang out with 21-year-olds who drink. It’s just how the process works.

So, if the drinking age was lowered to 18, it seems that the window of socially pressured drinking would simply shift to a younger age group.

So, a 17-year-old who hangs out with an 18-year-old drinking legally would be more likely to pick up the bottle.

At that age, people’s minds are easy to mold, and drinking habits can form at a much younger age.

Andrea Rehkamp, executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Southwestern Ohio said the age group in question is not mature enough to handle drinking, and the brain continues to develop into the early ’20s.

“Legal Age 21 is probably the most widely researched and studied piece of legislation,” Rehkamp said. “It saves lives.”

Nationally, MADD takes the position that lowering the drinking age will result in increased binge drinking.

“It’s our position that people under 21 aren’t developed enough to make informed decisions,” Rehkamp said.

One prevalent argument we all hear is that if someone can go to war for his or her country, he or she should have the right to drink alcohol.

On one side, the contradiction seems unfair.

On the other side, we don’t want the 32nd Airborne parachuting into a foreign country while drunk dialing an ex and craving pepperoni pizza.

It’s a slippery slope to consider lowering the drinking age. There are positives and negatives: rights versus safety.

But as it seems, if you are dissatisfied with the current laws in the United States, move to Canada when you’re 18, eh?

Or maybe we should abolish government and just do as we please.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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