Friday, January 14, 2011

The Drinking Age

The minimum legal drinking age in U.S. states is 21 instead of 18 because studies have shown it leads to fewer traffic fatalities. Most people drive on public roads, and want them to be safer. They realize that too many young adults are incapable of being responsible with alcohol, and they want to do something to prevent drunk driving. So these laws get voted in to protect people's safety.

These laws are particularly unfair to the minority of people, aged 18-20, who don't regularly drive on roads. College students who live on-campus and young adults who live in inner cities often don't own cars. It's absurd to outlaw alcohol for these adults. Most reasonable people can see this—however, they are okay with keeping the law in place because it is acceptable to them to oppress the small minority that doesn't drive as long as it leads to safer roads. It seems unfair to discriminate against a minority lifestyle, regardless of how irresponsible the majority is. There is nothing wrong with walking, biking, or taking public transportation—the only relevant difference is that most Americans do not travel this way. I don't see how laws that make assumptions about people's lifestyle can be compatible with a free society. Why should undergraduates with drinks in their hands have to duck in the bushes every time they see a cop? The minimum drinking age of 21 clearly discriminates against a minority lifestyle.


  1. i'm afraid this isn't a very strong argument, flames.

  2. It wasn't really meant to be an argument as such. I wanted to point out how the majority is willing to clumsily oppress a minority group with a law designed to make safer roads. Whether the law is worth it when all things are considered is not something I can decide for anybody else because it is a matter of opinion.

  3. But states actually have discretion, as far as I recall, over the drinking age. They could lower it to 18 or 16. It's just that they will be denied federal funding for roads and whatnot if in fact they lower it. I agree that it's stupid, but people have never had a problem with discriminating against minority groups through legislation. To me, it makes more sense to raise the driving age and lower the drinking age, as it is in most countries. Although that might not fly in a car culture such as is found in most places within the US.

  4. The car culture is part of the problem I have with this law. The law states that if you don't like this culture, shove it down your throat anyway. The only decent argument for this law is that without a car culture we would suffer economically, which I don't really care about except that it might give some belligerent power the idea they can have their way with us.

    It is a state issue, but the federal government has successfully bribed each and every one of them with highway funding. If I understand correctly, Louisiana was the longest to hold out--and they had shitty roads for a while as a result. Bless them.