The Instigator
Con (against)
3 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

The Minimum Legal Drinking Age should be lowered to 18

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/27/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,816 times Debate No: 27538
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




I am very new to this web site, i recently debated this topic in a class at school. I am very curious to get some good rebuttals to this topic. I hope to have a challneger soon.

Thank you


I accept your challenge. This seems like a very fun debate.
Debate Round No. 1


My first contention as to why the drinking age should stay 21 is because it reduces the amount of traffic accidents. Between 1970 to 1976, 30 states lowered their Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA). It was changed because so many young people were being drafted for the Vietnam war. During this period of time a significant amount of traffic accidents and fatalities occurred. President Reagan encouraged the states to change it back to 21 to reduce the amount of accidents. States soon raised it back up to 21 and the amount of accidents started to decrease. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that MLDA 21 decreased the number of fatal traffic accidents for 18- to 20-year-olds by 13% and saved approximately 27,052 lives from 1975-2008.


There are many people under the age of 21 that drink anyways. To keep people from committing a simple misdemeanor, it would be easier to lower the drinking age to 18.
Even 21 year olds get into car wreck because they drink. The alcahol tampers with any and everybody's mind. So why punish the 18 year olds? Why only allow a certain group of people to have alcohol?
If an 18 year old can drink and vote, then why can't they drink?
They lowered the voting age to 18 because they knew that when you are 18, you are an adult. The government knew that they are responsible enough to try to make the best decision for the society.
Debate Round No. 2


Your first point was people drink anyway; yes that is true, but studies show that because the MLDA is 21, less people are underage drinking. "MLDA 21 laws are working because the percentage of underage drinkers has decreased since 1984 when most MLDA 21 laws came into effect. [24] Studies indicate that when the drinking age is 21, those younger than 21 drink less and continue to drink less through their early 20s, and that youth who do not drink until they are 21 tend to drink less as adults. [42]" Your second point is people who are 21 still get into accidents, which I agree with that is true, but from the statistic I put in my first contention, proves that there are less accidents. Of course not all accidents can be prevented, but by the MLDA being 21, it definitely reduces motor vehicle accidents.


Fact Check: Many government officials, journalist and police officers believe that the age limit is not working.
Morris E. Chafetz, founder of the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse says this about raising the drinking limit age,

"In 1982 I accepted appointment to the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving and agreed to chair its Education and Prevention Committee. The Commission met over the next 18 months and ultimately advanced 39 recommendations to President Reagan...

The most conspicuous of those recommendations, and arguably the most controversial, called for raising the minimum legal drinking age to 21 nationwide... In the interest of maintaining unanimity, I reluctantly voted yes.

It is the single most regrettable decision of my entire professional career.

Legal Age 21 has not worked. To be sure, drunk driving fatalities are lower now than they were in 1982. But they are lower in all age groups. And they have declined just as much in Canada, where the age is 18 or 19, as they have in the United States.

But even if we concede that the law has had some effect on our highways, we cannot overlook its collateral, off-road damage. The National Institute for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, which I founded in 1970, estimates that 5,000 lives are lost to alcohol each year by those under 21. More than 3,000 of those fatalities occur off our roadways...

And if we broaden our look, we see a serious problem of reckless, goal-oriented, drinking to get drunk. Those at whom the law is directed disobey it routinely. Enforcement is frustratingly difficult and usually forces the behavior deeper underground, into places where life and health are put at ever greater risk. The 600,000 assaults reported annually, the date rapes, the property damage, the emergency room calls do not in general occur in places visible to the public. They are the inevitable result of what happens when laws do not reflect social or cultural reality.

The reality is that at age 18 in this country, one is a legal adult. Young people view 21 as utterly arbitrary -- which it is...

[T]here is no evidence of massive brain impairment, alcohol dependency, or underage alcohol abuse, which the 'experts' tell us will be the inevitable result of lowering the age in the United States.

But so long as the age remains a one-size-fits-all, federally-mandated 21, and so long as any state that may want to try something different, in hopes of reversing the dismal trend of binge-drinking that (maybe or maybe not coincidentally) has become more serious in the years since the drinking age was raised, forfeits 10% of its federal highway funds, nothing is likely to change for the better.

Fromma Harrop says this in one of her journal entries says this,

"Age 18 traditionally separates minors from adults. But one can't legally buy a drink in America until age 21. Meanwhile, many states are now sending minors into the adult criminal justice system, even for nonviolent crimes...

Our society's age-specific approaches often boil down to curbing the freedoms of the young -- and increasing their punishments...

The drinking age has long been a tug-of-war. Is a 19-year-old mature enough to fight in Afghanistan but not to order beer in a bar? Almost every other country sets the drinking age at 18.

The presidents of 135 colleges have called for lowering the drinking age from 21 [see Amethyst Initiative above]. They note that the age restriction hasn't stopped binge drinking on campus and argue, not without reason, that it has turned alcohol into forbidden fruit begging to be picked. Perhaps teaching young adults how to drink in moderation is the better way to go.

In our imperfect world, the law has to draw lines, however arbitrary. But laws that only appear to address a problem by burdening young people aren't wise, and they aren't fair."

Mark R. Benker, Police Chief in Colorado says this about the age change,
"Over the course of my nearly 30–year career in dealing with underage drinking and all the associated problems, I have come to the conclusion that changing the law from 18 to 21 was, overall, not a wise decision. I believe we should consider returning the legal drinking age to 18 (with conditions) and then spend our resources on programs to reduce abuse of alcohol and the effects it has on behavior. While I cannot go into all the detailed reasons why and address all the research in a memo format, I can say in summary that in addition to personal philosophical arguments (they are considered adults in every other way) I believe that the level of drinking between the ages of 18 to 21 has actually increased over the last 20 years. All of the efforts we have tried to implement over the years, including education, awareness programs, heavy enforcement, etc. have had little effect on preventing 18 to 20 year old adults from drinking. What we've done is helped create an underground culture that encourages binge drinking without any oversight or supervision. There are studies, statistics and anecdotal information that support my own observations and experience on this issue."

As you can see, many people disagree with the age limit raise. It promotes segregation of age and even though it went down for one age group, it actually went down for all groups. This rule discourage drinkers but that's not the point.

Debate Round No. 3


18 is not the age that separates children from adults on all issues for example, you can purcahse a handgun at age 21, you can adopt a child at age 21, you can gamble at a casino at age 21, you can rent a car at most companies at age 25, you can run for possision of a congressmen at age 25, you can run for president at age 35. clearly the age of 18 only separates children from adults in certain matters.

Just because people who are underage drinking doesnt mean we should make it legal. People are already selling prescription like pain killers or anti-despressants on their own outside of a hospital setting which is illegal and also very dangerous. however, just because people are already doing it, doesnt mean we should make it legal. Even if the perpitrators believe that it is their right to sell the drugs they procured legally.

The brain is completely mature at age 25. Alcohol has a unique effect on the brain; it damages its development. An 18 year old who over consumes alcohol even in the safety of his own home still runs the risk of hindering his own brain development with the substance. As you age you reduce this risk. The age is at 21 in hopes that it will reduce the amount of brain damage during development alcohol would cause. Its the difference between drinking with a developing brain for 4 years as opposed to an entire 7 year period.

Reducing the age of drinking in the United States also brings alcohol legally to a new stage; high schools. 18 year old high school seniors are now legally drinking; exposing even younger students at an earlier and earlier age. The days where you would have to get a fake ID and hope a bouncer doesnt recognize your age from your face trying to enter a bar are gone for the young 17 year old because now he can get alcohol from his friend on the football team. No more trying to sneak liquor out of their parents cabinets as hope that they wont get caught, because now they can just have their friend pick up alcohol for them after school. This whole situation actually adds more people who are drinking illegally to the system. The only difference between the demographic of illegal drinkers today versus this hypothetical is that in the hypothetical their younger amd more likely to make dangerous decisions or develop addictions at a young age


My opponent says that the brain is fully developed by 25, but that doesn't mean that people will still suffer the damage alcohol will cause. And besides, because the brain isn't developed until 25, then why are 21 year olds drinking.
Just because accidents went down in 1982, doesn't mean that it is helping. There are more people between the ages of 21-50, legal drinkers, than 18- 20 year olds. That's just common sense.
In Canada, people drink at the age of 18 and they have the same amount of accidents as we do when the age limit is 21. It just isn't working.
Many government officials that voted for it to be passed believe that it is a terrible mistake.
Debate Round No. 4


My opponent says I have failed to point out the relevance of brain maturity at age 25 but I have. Again as I have said alcohol causes brain damage especially during developmental stages. At age 21 the window of developmental damage opportunity is only 4 years versus the larger window of 7 years. Moving on; my opponent once again circles back to mere opinions of government officials and facts on driving accidents. I have clearly expanded that this issue entails much more than just drunk driving. I will concede that there are many factors that could have reduced the number of car accidents after the law was made. Perhaps it was the population as my opponent claims, perhaps seat belt laws that were enacted at the same time. However, most studies agree that the drinking law had a part to play also.

All that being said the drinking age laws encompass much more than just driving. The unintended consequences of lowering the drinking age are numerous and dangerous. I have clearly stated some, and my opponent has failed to address them instead preferring to continue discussing drunk driving which regardless of drinking age will see little effects regardless of drinking age because drunk driving will remain illegal. People breaking one law, in this case drinking under age, can break a completely separate law as well, in this DUI laws. In the same way people who legally ingest alcohol can still break the completely separate law on driving under the influence of alcohol.

Moving forward we have to address the other areas of what lowering the drinking age will do in our society. Like I said lowering the drinking age to 18 legally places alcohol in the hands of high school students automatically. As I've said that also may mean that these same students may introduce alcohol illegally into the lives of younger high school students.

If my opponent is however still bent on discussing drunk driving, then he has to consider that this law actually puts the right to drink in the hands of people who at most have only 2 years of legal driving experience. Right now, as it stands, you have 5 years of space between starting to drive and starting to drink. What this means effectively is that less experienced drivers have a greater opportunity to drive under the influence under this proposed law. That, I would contend, is seriously dangerous.


Let me say this:

The separation of 18, which is a legal adult, and 21 year olds, which is a legal adult as well, on the basis of alcahol consumption is segregation against age according to the 14 and 21 ammendment.

If the consumption of alcahol is bad, then why did they repeal the 18 ammendment?

Many government officials believe the age limit being at 21 was a bad mistake.

In Canada, their drinking limit is 18 and they have the same amount of accidents as we do when our age limit is 21.

'Why do we have a law that is supposed to show a significant decrease in accidents when in fact it didn't?

Vote for me. Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
I was going to vote on this, but both of you guys are throwing around way too many uncited facts, statistics and quotes for my liking. I would give you both negative marks if I could.

The debate looked interesting but citations are absolutely necessary when you start quoting people and listing off statistics. Otherwise it's just demagoguery.
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Posted by The_Master_Riddler 5 years ago
Thanks for the debate. It was really fun. I wished I could have did more, but I was short on time. When I accepted this debate, I thought I was going to be con, but I didn't notice until after I accepted that I'll be pro. This is not one of my best debates.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by imabench 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro started out with some horrendous arguments, but when he showed that the decrease in drunk driving related accidents may not necessarily be tied to drinking laws sicne the same drop was seen in other countries without the same laws, it shot a huge hole in Con's argument. However, pro didnt exactly give some good reasons for why the minimum drinking age should be lowered, so I give arguments to the con on the grounds that the pro didnt give enough good reasons to eliminate the laws to convince me that they should be abolished. No side used far more sources then the other, there wasnt an issue with spelling or grammar either.......... Other then that this debate was ok in my opinion, I give it 2 out of 4 stars