Good Essay On Regulations On The Legal Drinking Age
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Legal drinking age is the minimum age at which an individual can consume alcohol. In some jurisdictions, this term extends to the minimum age at which individuals can purchase alcohol. The legislature forms and passes laws on the minimum legal drinking age. These laws provide a guideline on where and when one can purchase or consume the alcohol or alcoholic beverages. Many countries in the world have set their minimum drinking age at 18. Some like Austria have their minimum legal drinking age at 16 while for others like china there is no information available about a legally set minimum legal drinking age (International Center for Alcohol Policies, p. 2). Some Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, forbid the consumption of alcohol for both Muslims and non-Muslims. However, in the United States of America, the legal drinking age is 21 years.
According to the center for disease control in the United States of America, the consumption of alcohol by underage individuals culminates in health complications. The consumption of alcohol by the underage individuals also exposes them to the abuse of other drugs and substances. In addition, underage drinking is one of the prime causes of road carnage in the United States. Data from the CDC shows that each year, more than 4300 underage individuals die from drinking. These are the reasons that justify the regulation of the consumption and purchase of alcohol by underage individuals.
The regulations on the minimum legal drinking age in the United States cover the purchase and consumption of alcohol in public places. The United States does not regulate the consumption of alcohol in private setting. In the world, only three countries have regulations that prohibit the consumption of alcohol by underage individuals in private places (International Center for Alcohol Policies, p. 2). These are Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and Singapore. The minimum drinking age Act of 1984 established the current legal drinking age in the United States. This act required all states and the District of Columbia to pass regulations that forbid the purchase of alcoholic beverages by individuals below the age of 21. This is the highest set minimum legal drinking age in the world. As a way of ensuring that the legislation was successful, the Act set a condition that only the states that had complied with this legislation would benefit from the state highway funds from the federal government.
Prior to the minimum drinking age Act of 1984, the 18th amendment of the united states constitution in the year 1920 that illegalized the sale, manufacture and consumption of alcohol (Philip Carlan, p. 169). However, 13 years later, the 21st amendment of the constitution revoked this provision. This is because the prohibition of the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol contributed to a steep rise in crime, especially organized crime, in the United States (Philip Carlan, p. 169). The 21st amendment placed the jurisdiction over alcohol matters in the hands of the states governments and the local government. Due to this new legal disposition, the states started adopting the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) limits to regulate the consumption of alcohol by underage individuals with most states choosing to set it at 21 years. The 21 years age limit was preferred because it was the legal voting age (Cook, p. 96).
The 26th amendment of the constitution in 1971 that lowered the voting from 21 to 18 ushered a new era in the minimum legal drinking age. Some states lowered the MLDA from 21 years to 18 years in order to conform to the changes in the voting age. However, the states that lowered their MLDA suffered increased deaths due to highway accidents compared to the states that remained at the 21 years limit (Cook, p. 97). The increase in road carnage was attributable to the lowering of the MLDA (Cook, p. 97). The evidence of increased road carnage increased the pressure on the congress to adopt a federal MLDA policy that would compel the states to set the MLDA at 21 years. This resulted in the birth of the National Minimum Legal Drinking Act of 1984 (Cook, p. 97).
The National Minimum Legal Drinking Act of 1984 prohibits the possession, consumption or purchase of alcoholic beverage by people under the age of 21. The Act provides the definition of an alcoholic beverage as beer, wines or distilled spirits. The National Minimum Legal Drinking Act of 1984 has some exceptions that allow the consumption or possession of alcohol for people under the age of 21. The Act allows for the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages by people under the age of 21 if it is for religious purpose.
In addition, the Act allows the manufacturers of alcoholic beverages to employ any individual of the age of 21 years. The Act allows the consumption of alcoholic beverages by people who have not attained the minimum legal drinking age if they are in the company of a legal guardian, parent or spouse who has attained the minimum legal drinking age (NHTSA, p. 8). The Act also exempts the use of alcoholic beverages for medical purposes by people who have not attained the minimum legal drinking age as long as a licensed medical practitioner or pharmacist provides or prescribes the alcoholic beverage. The minimum legal drinking age effected by the 1984 legislation applies to date.
Debate on the minimum legal drinking age
Although the raising of the MLDA to 21 years reduced the number of highway accidents, there has been raging debate on the effectiveness of the raising of the MLDA to the prevention of accidents. The number of highway accidents has been on the rise in the recent past even with the MLDA at 21 years. Some people opine that the increase in fatalities is attributable to novel drinkers who have just attained the legal drinking age. They are of the view that elevating the minimum legal drinking age is not the way to go in addressing the highway fatalities. On the other side, other people are of the view that the lowering of the minimum drinking age will contribute to health complications in the underage drinkers.
In conclusion, the minimum drinking age in the United States has been 21 years since the passing of the National Minimum Legal Drinking Act in 1984. This act has been instrumental in regulating the use of alcoholic beverages in underage people. In addition, the raising of the MLDA to 21 years contributed to the drop in the highway fatalities. However, there is need for more research on the shortcomings of the raised legal drinking age in preventing road carnage. The research should address how to improve the effectiveness of the elevated minimum drinking age to reverse the current trend of increasing road carnage yet the minimum drinking age is still at 21 years. There is need to identify and address the loopholes in the current legislations that set the minimum legal drinking age.
APIS. The 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act. 2015. 6 February 2015 <https://alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/the_1984_national_minimum_drinking_age_act_2.html>.
CDC. Fact Sheets - Age 21 Minimum Legal Drinking Age. 19 November 2014. 6 January 2015 <http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/minimum-legal-drinking-age.htm>.
Cook, Philip J. Paying the Tab: The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control. Princeton University Press, 2011.
International Center for Alcohol Policies. "Drinking Age Limits." ICAP REPORTS 4 . 1998.
John Saunders, Joseph Rey. Young People and Alcohol: Impact, Policy, Prevention, Treatment. John Wiley & Sons, 2011.
NHTSA. Community how to Guide on Underage Drinking Prevention. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2001.
Philip Carlan, Lisa Nored, Ragan Downey. An Introduction to Criminal Law. Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011.
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