The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 [23 U.S.C. § 158] requires states to prohibit persons under the age of 21 from publicly purchasing or possessing alcoholic beverages as a condition of receiving state highway funds. A federal ordinance interpreting the law excludes possession “for established religious purposes” from the definition of “public property”; accompanied by a parent, spouse or legal guardian who is at least 21 years of age; for medical purposes, if prescribed or administered by a physician, pharmacist, dentist, nurse, hospital or authorized medical facility; in clubs or private institutions; or for the sale, handling, transportation, or supply of liquor by reason of the lawful employment of a person under twenty-one years of age by a duly licensed manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer of liquor” [23 C.F.R. § 1208.3]. 1176-1919: No national drinking age. Prior to prohibition, the drinking age varied from state to state, with most states imposing no drinking age. The drinking age has been raised to 21 due to federal funding for highways. Critics of the amendment lamented the increase in alcohol-related deaths among drivers aged 18 to 20 in areas where the drinking age had been lowered. In fact, one of the results of states being responsible for their own age was the creation of “blood lines” between states that allowed 18-year-olds to drink and those that did not. Teenagers in the most restrictive state would travel to those where they could buy alcohol, drink and go home, creating a perfect storm for road deaths. Even though teenagers were no more predisposed than older adults to drive after drinking, this whole change in state meant that those who drove drunk had to travel longer distances to get home than their older brothers, who could simply slide down the block for a beer or six.
More miles by car meant more chances of drunk accidents. Raising the minimum drinking age has led to a decline in overall alcohol consumption among all young adults, even when alcohol is easily accessible. Myth: Some parents believe that providing alcohol to teens at home reduces the risk of drinking alcohol as adolescence ages and subsequent alcohol problems later in life. This is a major concern among public health officials, as late adolescence is one of the most important stages of cognitive development. The brain undergoes significant restructuring and specialization during this period, including the elimination of unnecessary neural connections and the refinement of connections between frontal-subcortical brain regions. Research shows that drinking alcohol, especially through excessive alcohol consumption, before the brain fully matures, can permanently damage the brain and hinder cognitive development. Students hate the age of alcohol consumption, not that they keep it. About four out of five students drink alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And more than 90% of this alcohol is consumed by excessive alcohol consumption.
Why is the U.S. at the age of 21? And how did we get here? In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox`s Phil Edwards explores the story of how the drinking age reached 21. Truth: The opposite is true – parents need to be aware that underage alcohol intake is actually increasing, rather than reducing the risk of continuing to drink into adolescence and leading to alcohol problems later in life. In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed, stipulating that federal highway money would be withheld by U.S. states that had not set the legal drinking age at 21. By 1988, all states had introduced the minimum age. Some states allow parents to do this with their own child (rarely, if ever, someone else`s child), but there is no evidence that this approach actually works.3 In fact, there is evidence to the contrary. When teens feel they have their parents` consent to drink, they increasingly do so when they are not with their parents. When parents have concrete and enforced rules for alcohol, young people drink less. References 3. Fallen, James. Excerpted from “Chapter 2: Federalism: Resolute, the Federal Government Should Restore the Freedom of Each State to Set Its Drinking Age.” in Ellis, Richard and Nelson, Michael (eds.) Debating Reform.
CQPress Publishers, Fall 2009. This answers the legal question of why the drinking age is 21, but what was the underlying logic of the original policy? Did lawmakers simply pick 21 out of a hat because they wanted seniors to learn the nuances of bar culture before graduation? Almost. The concept of a person reaching the age of 21 dates back centuries in English common law; 21 was the age at which a person could, among other things, vote and become a knight. Given that a person was an official adult at the age of 21, it seemed reasonable that he could drink even then. Despite these improvements, too many teenagers still drink. In 2012, 42% of students out of 12. 28% of Grade 10 students and 11% of Grade 8 students reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. In the same year, approximately 24% of Grade 12 students, 16% of Grade 10 students, and 5% of Grade 8 students reported excessive drinking in the past two weeks. Along with Iceland, Japan and South Korea, the United States is one of the few developed countries to have a legal drinking age above 18, according to the World Health Organization. In some countries, such as Belgium and Germany, 16-year-olds are allowed to buy alcohol.