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A Research Paper on Alcoholism and America's Legal Drinking Age

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Ali was a 17 year old girl. She had just gotten her license recently and on the night of November 22, 2004 she decided to go to a party. While there she consumed alcohol and later that night decided to drive some of her friend’s home. Ali crossed over the median in to traffic, while going 45 miles an hour. The car she was driving was hit by two other cars, and ended hitting a telephone pole head on. 3 friends in the backseat went through the windshield. Ali spent 6 months in the hospital, had 5 surgeries, and now is in a wheel chair. One of the girls in the backseat didn’t survive the crash. The two other friends in the back spent 8 months in the hospital had 8 surgeries each, including facial reconstructive surgeries and had their jaws wired shut for 6 months. This all could have been prevented. This fatal crash and the devastating after math were an affect of not only underage drinking, but the underground nature of it that the current system is failing to acknowledge. That is why I the affirmative firmly resolve that the United States Government should change the drinking age to 18 in all 50 states. (repeat)

Morris Chafez, the founder of the National Institute for Alcoholism and Abuse said it best when he stated “I believe we should consider returning the legal drinking age to 18 and then spend our resources on required education programs to reduce the abuse of alcohol and the affects it has on behavior” The story I just told you was heartbreaking but the penalties for the driver of that car were not enough for the crime committed. In total 11 people ended up in the hospital for varying lengths of time. Ali, the driver had her license taken away for 180 days and paid a $600 fine. The laws surrounding DUI’s and underage intoxication are not severe enough. That is why my first contention is that by lowering the drinking age to 18 and implementing stricter laws, young adults will be held more accountable for their actions. Our plan is to lower the drinking age, but to increase the penalties of violating the new laws put in place. For a first offense DUI a driver would get their license suspended for 5 years and be required to go to alcohol education classes. This is the same plan that Germany implemented. When doing so they established a new status quo, that drinking at all times must be done responsibly and must be learned in a familial environment. By putting our plan to action the consequences would be so tremendous that young adults would be too scared to break the law because by taking away their driving privileges, in a way that is taking part of their freedom.

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The many countries that adopted this no tolerance policy saw results fast. In the first year of these new laws alcohol related deaths and accidents dropped on average 10%. This proves that our plan is affective and foolproof. Our plan would bring alcohol into a more public view and if ever and if everyone is allowed to consume then that would take away the “thrill” of drinking. Jeffery Miron, professor and researcher at Harvard University said “If you were to design the ideal venue for drinking, you would not be designing a student union, dining hall, restaurant, or public place. You would instead design a locked dorm room or basement, which would be private and unseen to the public eye.” With the situation described there is no control. That is why my second contention is that By lowering the drinking age to 18 and making it socially acceptable to consume alcohol in public it would take away the “thrill” of drinking just to break the law. With our plan adults would be brought into the picture, with which they are currently absent from. Drinking would be taught like it is in Europe in a familial, leisurely environment. The current drinking age is encouraging teens to be rebellious because the laws are not enforced. 54% of agree that it is vital to the safety of citizens to change the current drinking age. If foreign countries have adapted a new plan, taken actions, and found good results then why can’t the United States use the same method to resolve this issue? In Germany, alcohol is a part of everyday life. It is offered with lunch and dinner so the cool aspect of drinking isn’t a problem because teens can have alcohol anytime, anywhere. This country also has severe punishments for violations of the law. Puerto Rico in 2006 found that alcohol related deaths had skyrocketed. They adopted Germanys plan and in the first year alone alcohol related deaths and accidents decreased by 11%. Jane Claypool, author of the award winning book Alcohol and you said “I firmly believe that this teenage drinking problem will persist as long as our society continues to view drinking alcohol underage as acceptable activity. We must make a nationwide effort to change attitudes and behavior patterns not only of teenagers, but of our entire society.” Jane is right. The status quo will only be changed if action occurs. Implementing our plan would be the first action into solving this major issue. That is why I the affirmative firmly resolve that the United States should lower the drinking age to 18 in all 50 states. I am now ready for cross examination.


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