The Instigator
DeepThought42
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
camdenyards81
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

The United States Should Lower the Drinking Age to 18

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/28/2015 Category: Health
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 635 times Debate No: 84345
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
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DeepThought42

Con

Since the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, a person must be 21 or older to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages in the United States. Some groups would like to see the age lowered to 18, while others argue that the age should stay at 21.

I will take the position that the minimum drinking age should be kept at 21 and that lowering it to 18 would be harmful for both the consumer and society.

The opposition will take the position that the minimum drinking age should be lowered from 21, and for the sake of this debate, we will say that the new proposed minimum drinking age is 18.

This will be the debate itinerary:
Round 1-Acceptance of debate
Round 2-Main arguments
Round 3-Rebuttals and closing statements

Thank you and I look forward to an interesting debate.
camdenyards81

Pro

Challenge accepted. Looking forward to reading your first round of arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
DeepThought42

Con

I'd like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate and I am looking forward to reading his arguments.
My reasons for keeping the drinking age at 21 can be summed up in 4 basic points.

1) The brain is not fully developed until age 21.

Even though 18 is the age of adulthood in the United States, the frontal lobes of the brain do not fully develop until around the 20's (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...). The frontal lobes are very important for things such as planning, fear assessment, and emotional regulational. Allowing drinking before the lobes are fully developed would be medically irresponsible, as alcohol can easily damage the brain while it is still growing as well as lead to a higher chance of alcoholism.

2) The environment that alcohol would put minors in is dangerous.

The environment that alcohol is served in is not the most safe environment for younger people. Clubs, lounges and bars would suddenly be opened up to a younger crowd, which would only cause trouble. These environments are notorious for issues like drugs, rape, and violence, all of which would pose an extra large risk to underage drinkers. Many 18 year olds still rely on someone like a parent for shelter and other necessities, so the dangers that they put themselves in impact more than themselves at that point in their lives, so the risk that they would be exposed to something more dangerous is too high.

3) Lowering the drinking age to 18 would only breed even more, and younger, underage drinkers.

Currently, the United States has seen a decrease in the amount of underage drinkers since the drinking age was increased to 21. Lowering it to 18 would only cause an increase in the number of underage drinkers. Many 18 year olds are still in highschool, with connections to plenty of younger students. With them being able to legally purchase alcohol, many of their younger friends would encourage them to buy alcohol for them, or would be exposed to it at their parties where they had leaglly bought it. This would increase the amout of underage drinkers and increase the number of minors who will grow up with alcoholism.

4) Historically, when the drinking age was lower, underage drunk drivers were involved in almost twice as many accidents.

This is a direct quote from the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website: "before the 21 minimum legal drinking age was implemented by all states, underage drunk drivers were involved in over twice as many fatal traffic crashes as today."
camdenyards81

Pro

I will respond to your arguing points in Round 3.

First off, I just want to provide some perspective to how drinking policy is handled globally. Below is a list of countries that have their drinking at a minimum of 21 years old:
Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Samoa, Sri Lanka, & United States...none of our peers [5].
All other first world countries and most developing countries have their drinking age corrisponding with legal voting age.

I'm going to make three arguments against the USA minimum drinking age of 21.

Federal Coercion

Drinking age is state mandated...but federally manipulated. The traditional democratic process was completely robbed from you!

In 1971, Congress passed the 26th amendment [1], which changed the voting age to 18. In response, most states dropped the drinking age from 21 to 18. This was pushed by a wave of youth activists in the wake of the Vietnam War with the idea that if 18 is old enough to die, they should be able to vote and drink. Seems sensible.
Due to reports that concluded an increase in alcohol related traffic deaths of young adults after the lowered drinking age, Ronald Regan bypassed traditional State control and passed the federally imposed National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. Because Congress or the Executive branch lack the actual power to change the drinking age, Regan directs the Secretary of Transportation to withhold a percentage of otherwise allocable federal highway funds from States "in which the purchase or public possession . . . of any alcoholic beverage by a person who is less than twenty-one years of age is lawful." [2]

Whether or not a State"s accident rate is effected by 18-21 drinking, this situation currently stands. A State can legally change its minimum drinking age below 21, but would suffer a withholding of 10% of its federal highway funding. Several states sued the government (see South Dakota vs. Dole) on the grounds that it was unconstitutional, breaking the 21st Amendment [3], the States right to control intoxicating liquors. Something that was put into place after "lessons learned" from Prohibition.
SCOTUS acknowledged the federally imposed workaround, but let the indirect minimum drinking law stand on the ground that it couldn"t interfere with Congress"s right "to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises." [2]

Some might say the democratic process to change the age still exists. A State could legally lower to 18, take the funding hit, and be completely within their rights. But this doesn"t happen. Generally, people care less about the rights of our youth, due to adultism, and embrace the idea of the police handling their parenting for the first couple years their children leave the nest.

Unethical

The 18-21 year old range is a small minority of our population. Apart from being one of the least experienced groups in influencing politics, they do not have the representation to affect their legal circumstances. The decision to "protect" under 21"s from alcohol is made by an outside majority that used the reasoning of keeping young adults out of harm. Ironically, that same majority has decided not to spare them, war or execution based on the fact that they are considered competent adults.

This is the definition of hypocrisy. Saying one thing, while doing another. As of December 31, 2004, 71 persons were on death row for juvenile crimes. This means the crimes were committed while the offender was 16 or 17 [4]. If protecting our youth is our main concern, why does it only extend to their right to drink? Answer: self-interest. For the majority of our population is fills two needs. The legal extension of parenting and adult disdane for youth culture.

There is not an ethnic/racial minority today that our country would treat in the same way. They have full responsibility, up to the point of being trusted and allowed to kill in other countries on our behalf, but deny them simple access to alcohol.

Criminalizing Social Norms Creates Unnecessary Criminals

Not only is there inconsistency in how to protect young adults, but also our cultural norms in relation to the law. For example, marijuana is a federally illegal substance, but our last three presidents have admitted to using it. Why don"t we care? Why do we care more about where Obama was born than the fact that he willingly broke the law? Because it is socially acceptable to try pot. In the same vein, a certain amount of underage drinking is expected from most kids.

On one hand you have a culture that fully embraces and lionizes alcohol in media, and then you try to counter act this by heavy penalty for certain groups of people that are deemed too irresponsible to use it properly. Who does this protect? Most of these penalties are financial, which this group of people really can"t supply. An underage drinking charge will affect your car insurance rates for 10 years in most states!


1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. http://constitutioncenter.org...
2. https://supreme.justia.com...
3. Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited. http://constitution.findlaw.com...
4. http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org...
5. http://drinkingage.procon.org...

Debate Round No. 2
DeepThought42

Con

DeepThought42 forfeited this round.
camdenyards81

Pro

Rebuttal:

1) The brain is not fully developed until age 21.

I don’t argue that statement, yet we legally hold them responsible, up to the right to take their life from them, at eighteen years of age. We have given them accountability without freedoms. It is unethical and clearly pushed by the majorities self-interest.

2) The environment that alcohol would put minors in is dangerous.

I wouldn’t argue that bars and clubs are the best places for young people to hang out, but the alternative for those bent on drinking is worse. House & dorm parties typically include no-holds-barred binge drinking. Keg stands and beer pong just aren’t typically present at public venues. Rape and violence are present at house parties as well…at least at a club there are people liable for things if they happen.

In fact, the Amethyst Initiative, a group of chancellors and presidents of universities and colleges across the United States that have signed their names to reducing the drinking age to 18 for this exact reason [1]. A non-profit associated with the Amethyst Initiative, called Choose Responsibility, conducted research at McGill University in Montreal Canada. McGill is unique in that it resides in Canada (drinking age 18) but has a large body of American students because of its proximity to the US. They also have a very low instance of binge drinking.

The conclusion was that students responded well to the open culture, “students and faculty and other adults intermingled around alcohol, whereas in American universities and colleges, there was a total separation of adults from young people. I think the lack of somebody around to demonstrate moderate drinking, to just having a professor or parent or somebody around who could say, “I think three beers is enough. You’re beginning to act like a jerk.” That sort of moderating behavior is totally absent. So here’s a whole generation of young people learning to drink from themselves, instead of from people who’ve had some experience with it. ”[2]

3) Lowering the drinking age to 18 would only breed even more, and younger, underage drinkers.

There really isn’t data to prove this, it is a hypothetical. If lowering the age greatly increased high school drinking, don’t you think it would be a hot issue is EVERY other developed country?

4) Historically, when the drinking age was lower, underage drunk drivers were involved in almost twice as many accidents.

I’m not going to argue that it doesn’t save lives. If we want our government to make these kinds of decisions…well excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion![4] This is from the Center of Disease Control. The excuse that it saves lives only works if it applies to everyone. Seems adults have just as many issues with booze.

I don’t mean to sound harsh against Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but the cold truth is they are fueled by anger and grief. In fact, its original name was Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. As a leading researcher on drunk driving has observed, ‘MADD is focused on the demand for justice or vengeance on the group that took the lives of friends and children. This warrants harsh punishment, whether or not deterrence is achieved.’[3]

I don’t particularly trust their findings.

Closing Statement:

I’m not condoning our youth drinking…just their rights to decide. To me it is a similar issue to abortion. The people that are pro-choice don’t like the fact that pregnancies are terminated. They get no pleasure from that, it is a tragedy all the way round. They just support the woman’s right to choose.

  1. http://www.theamethystinitiative.org...
  2. http://www.bu.edu...
  3. http://www.alcoholfacts.org...
  4. http://www.cdc.gov...
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by camdenyards81 1 year ago
camdenyards81
@Peepette - Thanks for your review! I'm guessing you accidentally switched opponents in your scoring at the end?
Posted by Peepette 1 year ago
Peepette
RFD: Con contends that the drinking age should remain at 21 for 4 reasons. Brain development, alcohol environmental dangers, trickle down age of drinkers and additional drunk driving accidents. Pro makes a statement that other developed countries have a drinking age of 18. In the US, the drinking age could not be lowered by the Feds. To circumvent this problem, a states drinking age was tied to highway funding. A drinking age below 21 resulted in % loss of funds; essentially states were blackmailed. On brain development Pro rebuts at 18 for all other things this age is accountable as an adult. Further rebuttal on environmental situation: Pro states underage drinkers seek private places to drink, where they are in greater danger than public spaces where more mature adults are present where they can provide proper example or check for responsible drinking. Trickle down drinking as a result of lowering the age is dismissed due to expectation, as with pot experimentation, a certain amount of underage drinking will occur. Though Con concedes that incidence of drunk driving is a factor, over 21 drunken driving incidences also does occur. Con rebutted all of Pros statements. Due to forfeit Pro did not make any counter rebuttals. Con wins. S&G is tied. Conduct to Con due to FF. Points to Con for sources providing substantiation to his statements.
Posted by camdenyards81 1 year ago
camdenyards81
@Deepthought42 - Hope all is well and you just forgot or couldn't get around to it. Happy New Year!
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