Unfortunately the world is not contained in four walls and the emotions felt on graduation day are not the same ones you feel weeks later when parents’ phone rings at 2:00 in the morning and the voice on the other end says “I am sorry but I need you to identify a body.” After a night of celebration and drinking, new high school graduate has taken one too many sips of alcohol and died from alcohol poisoning or chose to drive home drunk and ran a stop sign in the process (Fleming, p. 1), killing himself and others, or fell into a depressed drunken state and committed suicide (Carpenter, p. 831-842).
These are not the scenarios anyone wants to think about however they are very real. Eighteen may be the age of adulthood or independence but it is not the age of reason, responsibility, maturity, or discernment. An adult under the age of 21 should not be able to legally consume alcohol, nor should they be able to vote, enlist in the military, or enter into legal contracts such as marriage. Studies show these developing minds are just not ready to take on such levels of responsibility.
Those who argue that the legal drinking age should be lowered from 21 years of age to 18 years of age believe this is the age of accountability since it is the age that U.S. citizens have the right to vote. Although 18 are considered the age of adulthood, it should not automatically establish maturity or responsibility. To be able to cast a vote with mature reasoning requires study and/or strong personal opinions towards the nation or locality’s rules and politics. Most 18 year olds are still at home with their parents and have not experienced some aspects of life and independence that would help carve their views on any particular voting issue (Klein, 149-169).
The right to vote should be raised to 21 to coincide with the legal drinking age. Some also believe the legal drinking age should be lowered to the age of 18 because 18 year olds are able to get married and be held liable for financial matters which are legally binding contracts. I would argue that a legal contract should not be executed or honored by individuals who do not understand the seriousness of the agreement of commitment. At 18 one is considered an adult in the United States; however the law cannot determine one’s maturity level or readiness to deal with alcohol and legal matters.
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