Nationwide 21 drinking age: Appropriate?

In the U.S the drinking age is 21 in every state of the union. The reason for this is, in large part, because of the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. The effect of this bill was to coerce all states into raising their drinking ages to 21, or get their highway funding cut off.

I think that, regardless of whatever benefits a higher drinking age may confer, it does not justify blackmailing all 50 states to follow a rigid, inflexible policy of “must be 21”, and considering the fact that a lot of under-21 year olds have fought bravely and put their life on the line for this nation recently, maybe its time we repeal the MDAA of 1984 and give more freedom to the states to work things out on their own.

There are alternative ways of dealing with this issue that could be implemented. Perhaps let 18 year olds buy beer, but only in a controlled setting like a bar, but not any hard liquor or any booze outside of a bar or tavern? Federal Law has unnecesarily hindered states from doing anything other than a hardcore “NOT 21? NO ALCOHOL” policy.

I agree entirely. The Minimum Drinking Age Act was a terrible way to achieve a questionable goal.

Our drinking age is the highest in the world, and where has it gotten us? When was the last time you heard of an underage drinking crisis in Austria or Germany (drinking age is 16), Belgium (drinking age is 15), or China (no drinking age)?

Although accident rates among young drivers in the U.S. did go down after the MDAA, it’s important to note that they also went down in Canada during the same period, where the drinking age stayed the same (18-19)!

Cite: International Center for Alcohol Policies

I’m a BIG supporter of states having as much juresdiction over things like this as possible. Feds, back off. And, yes, the idea that you can vote or die for your country, but you can’t have a beer is ludicrous.

If the Minimum Drinking Age Act were repealed tomorrow, the drinking age would still be 21 in all states. Repealing the Act would merely give states more choice in how they wish to deal with alcohol.

If they choose to keep it the same, they keep it the same. If they choose to change their laws, they can do so if they deem it appropriate.

States are miniature social laboratories, allowing us to try new and innovative things. For example, the small state of Wyoming was the first to let women vote and eventually the whole nation follow suit. California was the first to allow medical marijuana. My great state of Oregon legalized physician assisted suicide for terminally ill patients with 6 months or less to live.

Someone who disagrees with their states policies are free to go to other states to do what they want. For example, if I wanted to pump my own gas badly, I could go drive to washingon. If I want to avoid sales tax, I can go back to Oregon where there is no sales tax. Those who like gambling and prostitution but live in states that man those things are free to go to Nevada.

Variety is the spice of life.

Actually the drinking age, the legal age, the voting age, etc., should be 21. Of course, this means repealing the 26th Amendment so we can kiss that idea down the tubes.

states that BAN those things. :wink:

What doyou mean by legal age? If you mean for sex I think thats kind of pushing things. It wouldn’t seem right to prosecute someone for “statutory rape” for having sex with a 20 year old.

The 26th amendment passed because people thought it was unfair to send 18 year olds off to die and then simultaneously deny them voting rights because they were too young to vote.

If someone is old enough to die for his country doesn’t he at least deserve the right to have a freakin beer?

I’m in agreement with some of you: if a person is supposedly mature enough to vote for leaders and/or fight and possibly die protecting this country, you should have the right to drink. Especially for the fighting and dying part. Hmm… maybe only the >18 years-old military folks should get to drink, and everyone else has to wait until they become 21. Just a thought.

A great example of the illegal (Constitutionally) ways the federal government is using to control states. Their hooks are only going to get deeper as time goes on.

The issue here, for me, isn’t whether or not 21 is the ideal drinking age, but that the federal government has absolutely no business holding things over the states to have it compy with it’s will.

Well, there is rationale for wanting a uniform drinking age throughout the country. As I understand it, it wasn’t uncommon for 18-20 year olds who couldn’t drink in their home state to drive one state over, get drunk, then drive back. Obviously, this is a problem.

That said, I’d rather the drinking age be uniform at 18 or younger.


So right. Can you imagine what Madison or Jefferson would have had to say about a federallyl mandated drinking age? And let’s not quible about whether it’s a true mandate or not. For all intents and purposes, it is.

VarlosZ: People on the northern border can still go to Canada to drink.

The Feds use things like highway funds to blackmail states into doing things. They did this with the ridiculous 55mph speed limit, they did it with drinking age and open container laws, they did it with seatbelt laws, and now they’re doing it again with the .08 BAC. Next it will be helmet laws.
Has any state ever challenged this tactic in the SCOTUS as a violation of the 10th Amendment?

Or, hell, just challenged it on the grounds that it’s not a federal power?

most people end up drinking way before 21 anyway. it really makes little difference, other then keeping people under 21 out of bars.

Having laws on the books that are routinely broken by a large percentage of the population with little or no consequence makes a difference - if not in behaviour, then in the attitude towards law and lawbreaking. As O’Rourke put it, it " pins a Kick Me! sign on the backside of the majesty of law".

Is the issue that the age should be lower than 21 or that the states should set the age themselves? It was my understanding that the drinking age became standardized by the federal government because kids would drive from a 21 state to an 18 state to drink. There would then be a significant number of accidents as a large number of drunk teens return to their home state drunk at 2:00 am and get into accidents.

Maybe someone can verify if the statistics bear this out or if it is one of those anti-drug urban legends like “Billy - The boy who after one drink set of on a path of destruction”.

The biggest problem IMHO with the 21 age has nothing to do with Federal vs State rights or old enough to “fight old enough to drink” (hey! if I’m old enough to drive, why can’t I run for President or rent a car?). The problem is that it’s such an arbitrary age. Take college campuses for example where underage drinking is fairly common. You have half the population under 21 and half over. They all go to the same parties and social events and have very little supervison. The result is that the law becomes effectively irrelevent because any freshman can go to a party run by seniors or have an older roommate buy alchohol for him. Enforcement becomes a nightmare because every gathering effectively an “18 and over” bar. At least in high school when you come across 5 guys in the woods with a six-pack, you can pretty much bet they are there because they are underage.

And what about those people who don’t go to college? They can work full time (and probably not very satisfying) jobs but can’t grab a beer after work? Doesn’t make sense.

Ahh…this is a good argument.

First of all, my state was the last state in the union to implement a seat belt law. That law was voted down by the people three times by an overwhelming majority. Finally, when the federal government elected to cut highway funding, the vote went to the state legislature. The people had spoken…three times. The state legislature over-rode the people. That doesn’t seem right.

Next, I feel that there needs to be an amendment added to the constitution expressly outlining that any age a state deems to be the legal adult age is considered to be that age for all express purposes. No adult should be persecuted on a basis of age. I believe the legal voting age, the legal driving age, the legal drinking age, the legal gambling age, the legal everything age should be the same.

I love things like this - drinking/voting/age of consent/etc laws. “Oh, happy 18th birthday! Now you’re old enough to vote, to gamble, to drive, to have a credit card, to be completely independent - but no, you can’t drink yet.”

I don’t understand the basis for it, why we keep the age so high (I don’t really think it’s important who says what it is.) If you can buy cigarettes (which, IMO, are far more dangerous than alcohol) at 18, why not a drink? We’ve got the highest drinking age of just about anywhere, and the highest statistics for teen drunk driving fatalities, underage drinking in general, etc. But heaven forbid we would do something that would take away a way to blame the younger generation for our societal problems…