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

the drinking age should not be lowered to 18

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/6/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,366 times Debate No: 60087
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




a very common argument in favor of lowering it, is that if you are old enough to serve in the military you should be old enough to drink. i can see the logic that the two should go together, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the age should be lowered. more like, the age to enlist should be raised.
many if not most who join the military are being taken advantage of due to their youthful naivette and lack of options. if they required the age be later, maturity would deter many. (among other committments they make, sure). also, at that age, ddeaths and harm is extremely common due to these folks. as the age raises w maturity, the problems decrease.
basically, at the age of 18 most kids are mature enough.


Rights and Responsibilities

The legal age of adulthood in the United States is 18. That is when citizens can vote, serve on a jury, buy cigarettes, be tried as adults, and enlist in the military as Pro pointed out. Is Pro suggesting that 18 is too young for any and all of these things?

Intelligence and the capacity of self restraint are not determined by age. However it's reasonable to assume that if a citizen is considered eligible to make profound life and legal decisions in some areas, then they should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities across the board. Either we consider 18 year olds mature enough to be tried as their adult peers, and as such hold them accountable for their actions, or we universally apply a distinction between those who are 18 and those who are older and acknowledge a disparity in presumed maturity.

In other words, the government (society) ought to be more consistent in terms of applying accountability and legal eligibility. The government should also consider the fact that drinking alcohol does not automatically violate the rights of anyone, and it's immoral to punish someone for simply consuming a beverage unless they specifically cause harm or danger to others.

It's also worth noting that 45 of the 50 states allow for under age drinking with certain restrictions, such as being permissible with parental consent, allowing for the consumption of alcohol for religious purposes, or drinking on private premises as some examples. This once again presents an inconsistent moral and legal standard which proves the current drinking age is based on flimsy logic.


Allowing people under 21 to drink alcohol openly would decrease unsafe drinking activities. Prohibiting them from drinking openly in bars, resturants, and other public places forces them to drink in unsupervised locations where they may be prone to engage in more risky behavior (such as binge drinking). Instead of alcohol consumption being a regular part of daily life, it becomes this overly glorified taboo that puts drunkenness on a socially desireable pedestal. In Europe, young people aren't as excited (and risky) about drinking because it's not as exclusive to them.

Traffic accidents and fatalities are most common among newly legal drinkers [1]. Any increase in traffic accidents or fatalities in 18- to 20-year-olds would be offset by a decrease for those 21 and older [2]. Moreover, there are fewer drunk driving accidents and fatalities in many countries with a drinking age of 18 vs. 21 like the United States. In fact, drunk driving accidents have been on the decline, and research shows that it does not correlate to the legal drinking age at all.

I would invite Pro to provide specific data that proves a 21 year old drinking age inhibits crimes like suicide, homicide or vandalism. On the contrary, 72% of studies found no statistically significant relationship between the two despite claims that lowering the drinking age to 18 would increase suicide and other criminal activities by adolescents [3].

Legal Repercussions

Underage drinking accounts for almost 1/5 of consumer spending on alcohol in the US [4]. In 2006, 72.2% of twelfth graders reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives [5]. In other words, young people are drinking anyway despite criminalization. Not only is this good for the economy, but it's worth noting that a higher drinking age does not successfully deter young people from alcohol anyway.

In addition to promoting risky drinking habits, this makes young drinkers officially criminals which can have devastating effects on their livelihood should they be caught consuming alcohol. Being reprimanded in school, having legal privileges taken away, establishing a criminal record, and enduring a ton of money in fines, fees and other court costs are all detrimental legal aspects of a higher drinking age.

Often times young people do not seek medical attention or other assistance in fear that they will be punished for drinking while under age.
Furthermore young people are incentivized to create and purchase fake IDs, and go through other illegal avenues (like bribery) to get their hands on alcohol. Since drinking is not inherently dangerous or immoral, why create an unnecessary class of criminals who can and often are penalized for not causing any overt harm?


[1] Thomas S. Dee and William N. Evans, "Behavioral Policies and Teen Traffic Safety," American Economic Review, May 2001
[2] "Alcohol Impaired Driving," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,, 2009
[3] Alexander C. Wagenaar and Traci L. Toomey, "Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws: Review and Analyses of the Literature from 1960 to 2000,"Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 2002[4] Joseph Califano Jr., "The Commercial Value of Underage and Pathological Drinking to the Alcohol Industry,"National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, May 2006
[5] Charlie Covey, "Drinking Age Requires Necessary and Proper Action,", Nov. 11, 2007
Debate Round No. 1


pro isn't really presenting any stellar arguments, she's just arguing that it should be all or nothing. much like hte military age, if you are old enough for one you are old enough for the other.

and con doesn't really negate that the younger you are the more likely you are in be involved in a fatal crash due to alsochol.

i'd personally keep adult in cout and voting and smoking, but drining and military for 21. those life and death decisions are not ready by 18. and if one is forced to say either or, i'd say make it all 21 with all these points. i don't see why we can't ease kids into adulthood though the way i describe.

at best con can show 'the kids will want to run wild some, might as well get it out of thier system soone thn later' the problem, though is that more car fatalities happen the younger we go with drinking. the bottomline is even if they are going to want to sow wild oats, being more mature when they are getting to that point will only help.

con says young people will drink anyways. yes, but not as much if it's illegal.and that means less fatalities.


Pro claims that I haven't presented any stellar arguments, and instead have limited my responses to an "all or nothing" factor. Of course that isn't true. In addition to the point about consistency regarding legal adulthood (which is in fact a great argument that Pro hasn't come close to addressing in full), I also pointed out --

1. Intelligence and the capacity of self restraint are not determined by age.

2. Drinking alcohol does not automatically violate the rights of anyone, and it's immoral to restrict someone for simply consuming a beverage unless they specifically cause harm or danger to others.

3. Forty five out of 50 states allow for underage legal drinking with certain stipulations, proving moral ambiguity and pragmatic inconsistency.

4. Prohibiting young people from drinking in public encourages risky behavior.

5. Young people continue to drink anyway, making them criminals and creating harmful repercussions for their actions including but not limited to secrecy (even to their medical detriment) and the problems that go along with an arrest.

One has to wonder why Pro hasn't responded to these "not so stellar" arguments.

If he doesn't negate them, they stand in favor of Con.

Pro's only defense is that an 18 year old is not ready to make "life or death" decisions. In addition to this simple explanation not remotely addressing my previous five (or rather six) arguments, Con hasn't proven that drinking alcohol is in fact a life or death situation. Billions of people around the world drink alcohol, and yet most experiences do not result in fatalities. Myself, my friends and my family have spent thousands of nights combined drinking (and drinking heavily) without any of us ever suffering a devastating injury or death related to alcohol consumption. So while drinking alcohol can in fact be dangerous and increase the chances of being hurt, the fact is that statistically drinking alcohol alone will not kill or even necessarily hurt you. It's only drinking copious amounts of alcohol (which is irrelevant to the resolution) that can have severely damaging effects. However, I am not advocating that young people go out and get drunk a lot; I'm just advocating that the drinking age be lowered.

Pro says he advocates "easing kids into adulthood." That is a completely irrelevant point. As I mentioned, in Europe there is a much lower drinking age (there used to be no drinking age at all) and those kids transition into adulthood just fine. Furthermore the fact that nearly 3/4 high school students drink alcohol prove that kids are "transitioning" to adult experiences regardless of the drinking age. Therefore, it is Con's burden to show why the drinking age being over 18 is specifically beneficial. He claims that a drinking age of 21 inhibits underage drinking which has been demonstrated false by the statistics and resources that I posted in the last round.

Finally, I would like to point out that I did in fact cite sources that proved a correlation between drinking age and car crash fatalities. I noted that traffic incidents regarding alcohol are most common among newly legal drinkers. This is true regardless of the drinking age. Ergo Pro's comment that "the younger you are, the more likely you will be involved in a fatal crash due to alcohol" is not necessarily true. Pro must prove this is true with a cited study or source. In the last round I cited research that explained if the drinking age is 18, then sure a lot of 18 year olds will be in alcohol related crashes. And similarly, if the drinking age is 21, then a lot of 21 year olds will be in alcohol related crashes. This completely negated Pro's supposition that age alone (especially those measly 3 years) are a large factor in maturity or accidents, and supports my claim that the novelty factor of drinking is what encourages risky behavior.

Another argument I would like to present is based on more research. The legal drinking age was raised to 21 in 1987. Pro claims that a lower drinking age would be more dangerous, but the facts point out that vomiting after drinking, cutting class after drinking, missing class because of a hangover, getting poor grades due to alcohol consumption, and being in a fight after drinking -- all irresponsible behavior related to alcohol consumption -- INCREASED after the drinking age was raised [1]. This further extends the novelty argument (that young people engage in risky behavior because it's new and cool) and negates Pro's continuous, unsupported position that a lower drinking age necessarily yields more dangerous or negative outcomes.

Cultures such as Italians, Greeks, Chinese and Jews who have a totally different social outlook on alcohol allow minors to drink, and have nowhere near the drinking problems that Americans do. Ergo it's a cultural influence and not necessarily an ageist one that dictates responsible drinking habits. Dwight B. Heath, anthropologist at Brown University, has written a handful of scholarly articles explaining that criminalizing alcohol consumption until age 21 has been detrimental insofar as shaping people's attitudes and subsequent behavior regarding alcohol. He claims that the younger people start drinking, the safer they tend to be [2].

Debate Round No. 2


capacity for self restraint isn't determined by age. statisticually, age matters. there might be some starllar fifteen year olds, very mature. but they are the outlier. we need a common baseline, and eighteen isn't good enough. the lower the drinking age, the more drunk driving accidents happen. that's a fact.

con argues there would be less risky behavior with legalization. that is true to some extent. but it's overbalanced by the fact that legalized drinking leads to drunk driving and more deaths.again, that's a fact.

the lower the age permitted to drink, the higher share of drunk driving occurs. and deaths. bottomline.

In fatal crashes in 2011, the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (32 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (30 percent) and 35 to 44 (24 percent). - See more at:
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people ages 15-20. In 2008, 5,864 young people ages 15-20 died in motor vehicle crashes. Alcohol was involved in 31 percent of these deaths and 25 percent of these drivers were legally drunk at the time of the crash.1
Kids who start drinking young are seven times more likely to be in an alcohol-related crash. - See more at:
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and about a quarter of those crashes involve an underage drinking driver. - See more at:
Teen alcohol use kills 4,700 people each year - that"s more than all illegal drugs combined. - See more at:


Pro kept repeating that it's a "fact" that lowering the drinking age would cause more drunk driving accidents. Unfortunately for him, I already explained why (and provided links with citation) that is completely false. He ignored the explanation that I repeated in the last two rounds, which explain drunk driving accidents occur most around the age of legalization whether it's 18 or 21 (meaning age is irrelevant, and it's the novelty factor that is). I explained this several times.

His statistics are a moot point and do not remotelty address my argument. He pointed out that younger people tend to get into more drunk driving accidents than older people. This completely ignores the fact that accidents occur closest to the age of legalization. Of course a 30 year old will be less likely to get in a drunk driving accident than a 22 year old. My proposition (backed by research -- Pro provided none to counter it) is that a 22 year old who lives where alcohol becomes legal at 18 will be far less likely to get into a drunk driving accident than a 22 year old who lives where it becomes legal at 21. Again, Pro never addressed this point and kept repeating his misguided "fact" that I've already demonstrated false multiple times.

Pro also repeated that kids who start drinking younger are more likely to be involved in alcohol related deaths. This doesn't prove that raising the drinking age prevents kids from drinking. This also doesn't prove that age is more of a factor than novelty.

Other arguments of mine that Pro completely ignored and/or did not negate include but are not limited to:

- Drinking alcohol does not automatically violate the rights of anyone, and it's immoral to restrict someone for simply consuming a beverage unless they specifically cause harm or danger to others.

- Forty five out of 50 states allow for underage legal drinking with certain stipulations, proving moral ambiguity and pragmatic inconsistency.

- Prohibiting young people from drinking in public encourages risky behavior.

- Young people continue to drink anyway, making them criminals and creating harmful repercussions for their actions including but not limited to secrecy (even to their medical detriment) and the problems that go along with an arrest.

- Cultures where alcohol is not taboo to young people have a totally different social outlook on alcohol, and have nowhere near the drinking problems that Americans do.

These are all arguments that I have repeated multiple times from Round 1, and that I specifically outlined by number to make it easier for Pro to respond. He intentionally chose not to, and therefore they must all be acknowledged in my favor. We have no choice but to believe Pro didn't respond because he cannot combat those arguments with logic or reason.

Furthermore I negated Pro's claim that drinking alcohol is a "life or death" experience and he never responded meaning he agrees with my point. I also mentioned that I was not advocating drunkenness, just a younger drinking age. Finally I argued that statistics show negative behavior associated with drinking alchol INCREASED among young people along with the drinking age increase. Considering Pro chose to ignore the vast majority of my arguments, it's not surprising that he didn't respond to that one either.


There are about ten arguments I have presented since R1. Pro chose to blatantly ignore around six of them. The other four responses he gave have been demonstrated either completely irrelevant and/or undeniably false. Pro has never proved that raising the drinking age would be safer (and my research suggests otherwise). He never proved that a 21 year old drinking age was moral; I explained why it's not. If the drinking age is not practical or moral, it should be lowered to 18 for all of the aforementioned reasons of the last three rounds.

Thank you for this discussion.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by patrick967 7 years ago
I might take this if no one else does.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by mishapqueen 7 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro never seemed to really respond to Con. Con was clearly more professional and studied. What with Pro dropping arguments and avoiding Con's points, I vote Con.

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