While those under 21 who have become accustomed to drinking in the bars may not be happy about it, there are reasons for this law that we should probably take a moment to recall:
- One of the prime reasons for raising the age was to reduce drunk driving. Raising the drinking age to 21 has reduced the number of intoxicated youth drivers involved in fatal crashes by over 14%.
- Those who start drinking early are more likely to suffer from alcohol problems later. While some may say, “that’s a risk I’m willing to take,” it’s a risk that affects all of us: over half the costs of alcohol abuse are paid by society.
- Underage college drinkers are more likely than their of-age counterparts to suffer consequences ranging from unplanned sex, getting hurt or injured, requiring medical treatment for an alcohol overdose, and doing something they would later regret. Again, these problems often have impacts not just on the drinkers, but on fellow students and area residents as well.
- The argument has been made that in places like Europe where youth have traditionally been allowed to drink, that youth are more responsible drinkers. However, most European countries actually show higher rates of underage binge drinking and intoxication than here in the U.S. European countries have the highest rates of adult drinking in the world, and pay the highest costs in terms of health and other alcohol related consequences. Obviously, our higher drinking age in the U.S. has positive effects both on youth and on the population as a whole.
Making it harder for those under 21 to drink illegally will certainly put a dent in local bars’ profits. However, it is clearly a good thing for the rest of us.