Drinking age is ‘ridiculous,’ lower it to 18

By on March 3, 2011

I turn 21 this week.

Quite exciting actually, even though I’ve never been big on birthday celebrations. Usually dinner with my family and a gift card or two from my aunts and uncles is enough for me. But 21 is a big birthday that deserves a big celebration, as all college kids know.

There are two hang-ups I have with this upcoming day, though. One, I’m the oldest of my friends in my room and in the older half of my core group of friends. There are ways to go out without being 21, but not everybody is keen on risking that. So now I’ll be of legal age to purchase and consume alcohol in the United States and I’ll want to take advantage of that and hit up some bars, but a lot of my friends will be left behind. I don’t want to do that.

There is nothing to do about that first point. People are born at different times – I can’t really be mad about that. This second point is what really irks me. I studied in Great Britain for a semester, and spent some time in Spain over the summer. In Britain, Spain and all the countries I visited while I was abroad, the drinking age was 18 for liquor, and often 16 for beer and wine.

I now come back to the United States, after being deemed responsible enough by the European Union to purchase and consume alcohol, and am told I have to wait to do those things legally. Let’s do a quick run through of things that people under 21 are allowed to do in the United States. Buy lottery tickets, drive a car, work full-time, rent a hotel room, represent their country in international sporting arenas, run for school board, be put out of their parents’ home and expected to be a fully functioning member of society, get a loan to buy a house, vote in any election, and serve in the military.

The last one is what really gets me. An 18-year-old can enlist, go through basic training, complete a tour of duty in one of the various conflict zones the United States is currently engaged in, and upon returning home will then be told by that same government that he cannot legally sit down and have a beer with his dinner.

I find this law to be ridiculous. It’s insane. My proposal is to lower the drinking age to 18, decriminalize marijuana (or at least have some sensible policy, see last week’s Chronicle), and keep the driving age at 16. When an individual is between the ages of 18 and 21, anything but a 0.02 on a breathalyzer while operating a motor vehicle will still be an offense. There is a maturity level that not everybody has at 18, and we need to think about and protect other people. There are plenty of 18-year-old individuals who are functioning members of society that deserve the right to purchase and consume alcohol legally.



About Jeremy Stull

Opinion Editor
Email: opinion@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @jpstull
Year: 2012
Major: History
Hometown: Lehman, Pa.
Dream Job: President of the United States Soccer Federation


  1. Mike

    March 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    The arguments that Jeremy advances in his opinion piece cause me to recall the late 1960s, early 1970s era. The war in Vietnam was still raging, and many of us were conscripted into the armed forces. Social unrest was the order of the day; and the same arguments concerning the legal drinking age arose from college campuses across the country. In response Connecticut and other states lowered the drinking age to 18. The results were disastrous. Teenage deaths atributed to underage drinking surged. The rate of alcoholism among young people also dramaticly increased. Alcohol use among teens became such a problem that the legal drinking age was returned to 21. Jeremy is correct, there is a maturity problem; 18 year olds are neither mature of emotion or body to use alcohol. We have been down this road once before; the youth of this generation are no more prepared for the responsibility than was my generation 40 years ago.

  2. Caleb Gindl

    March 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I hope this wasn’t plagiarized.

  3. In response to Mike

    March 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Mike, your non-biased argument is very strong. I’ll even go so far as to say that I agree with you on what appears to be its key point; “18 year olds are neither mature of emotion or body”. This is why 18 year olds (legal adults in every country in the world), should be treated as the immature children that they are. What our all-mighty government should do, is withhold any and every “adult” responsibility until the person turns 21. This will include restricting their rights to vote, the rights to controlling 2-ton high-speed death machines, owning firearms, and killing in the name of their beloved country. I feel that it’s absolutely disgusting that the government still allows these irresponsible hooligans those rights. Mike, can you honestly tell me that you don’t feel disgusted knowing that your government is still allowing so many irresponsible people to partake in such a vast number of highly-dangerous activities? I for one, do.

  4. Mike

    March 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Hi Jeremy: I am indeed impressed with the thought that you have put into this issue, I respond with some thoughts. Maturation develops at different rates in different people. Thus, when government affixes a minimum age to an activity – like driving or drinking alcohol – it is largely based on what is considered to be the “average” appropriate age for the activity. Law makers base these decisions on empirical evidence solicited for that purpose. Not perfect – but also not arbitrary, as I know it must seem. Of late, the law makers have restricted 16 and 17 year olds in when and with whom they can drive, This is but one example. Long guns and ammunition can be purchased at age 18; while hand guns and ammunition require one to be 21. You get the idea. Service in the military is, at present, is voluntary. In my day the draft was still in use, and a young man could be drafted at age 18, if not still in high school. With parents permission one could enlist at age 17. I think this is still the case. Service in the military tends to mature one very quickly, but that’s another topic. I am not happy that youngsters are still sent to war – and I do think that 18 is too young – but the tragic fact of the matter is: war is a young man’s sport. Pardon the expression. Jeremy, I encourage you and your friends to continue to question the wisdom of our government. Quinnipiac is a wonderful place to study and explore life. I enjoyed my time there, I hope you do as well. Remenber, the kind of government we get is the kind we demand, continue to question, and, above all else, think.

    All the best: