A controversial topic prominent in the United States is the minimum legal drinking age at 21 required in all 50 states. For a few years in the 1920's, alcohol was entirely outlawed. After being repealed, the opinion on what the MLDA (minimum legal drinking age) should be tends to vary from person to person. Some argue that since adulthood is achieved at 18 years of age, young adults should make their own choices regarding their consumption of alcohol. However, there are precautions that need to be thoroughly considered before advocating to reduce the MLDA. The minimum legal drinking age should not be lowered below 21 due to the associated health problems with drinking and the prevalence alcohol-related car accidents.
Lowering the minimum legal drinking age would be medically and ethically irresponsible. Because the brain continues to mature until the age of 25, underage alcohol consumption can interfere with essential mental and cognitive processes still developing (Holloway, n.d.). On an ethical standpoint, peer pressure is a common factor teens are prone to fall victim to. This may lead to underage drinking as well as correlate to more alcoholics in the future by forty percent (Stephenson & JH Bloomberg, n.d.). Along with that, several other concerns are linked with early exposure to alcohol including the risk of assault, academic failure, vulnerability to addiction, reduced decision-making ability, and higher rates of suicide. Undoubtedly, alcohol consumption only hinders the quality of life for young teens, therefore the MLDA should not be lowered.
Additionally, the drawbacks of reducing the minimum legal drinking age include an increase in automobile accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. The NHTSA's data over decades presents a solution to this issue, "NHTSA estimates that the 21-year-old minimum-drinking-age laws have aided in reducing alcohol traffic fatalities and have saved an estimated 29,834 lives since 1975."
Subsequently, an increase in lives were saved due to current MLDA laws as shown by the NHTSA. All and all, car accident fatalities would fall without the factor of underage drinking present thus, lowering the MLDA would be detrimental to society.
Contrary to statistics, some say that minimum legal drinking age laws are ridiculous in respect to other rights entailed at the age of 18 in the U.S. While in fact, it would be even wiser to increase the MLDA rather than lower it. Nonetheless, the health issues and automobile accidents associated with underage drinking ultimately point to lowering the MLDA as an illogical judgment.