The Drinking Age Limit Reconsidered

Everybody went to Mexico for Spring Break. Even President Bush and the Canadian prime minister went to discuss immigration and border policy. I, however, was there not to debate immigration, but rather to jump over another border, chiefly the border of America’s 21-year-old drinking age.
Lying on the floor, my mind in a Tequila haze, a shot glass rolled to the side, I thought to myself, ‘Why must I wait three more years to indulge in this precious nectar in my own, beloved country? Why, every time my throat is parched with thirst, must I go into my friend’s chest of drawers and be forced to consume from a slightly battered, half-empty water bottle?’ In other words, why can’t America’s drinking age be lowered to 18?
Aside from the previous arguments in favor of an 18-year-old drinking age (if we can vote and smoke, we should be able to drink; America has the highest drinking age in the world, et cetera), I’d like to tackle this issue from a different perspective by asking this question: Is alcohol really that bad?
While they may not always give out false information, one cannot call Anti-Whatever organizations anything less than propaganda machines. Take smoking, for instance. Addiction! Emphysema! Lung cancer! Smoking causes so many genuine problems that anti-smoking propagandists must have orgasms when thinking of the possibilities. Then there’s condom use. Pregnancy! AIDS! Death! Again, these are all valid reasons to use protection, but one cannot deny that there is a constant stream of propaganda-like advertisements pound this message into our brains.
Finally, let us take a look at alcohol. There is, in fact, only one kind of propaganda that surrounds drinking: driving under the influence. That’s it, the best reason that people could come up with to demonize alcohol. Antidrinking advocates can’t even use the threat of alcoholism anymore because it has been proven that alcoholism is, in fact, a valid biological disease that can be traced genetically, so alcohol addiction is completely different from nicotine addiction. Therefore, the only reason why we can’t drink at 18 is because people believe the threat of driving under the influence is too great.
Sure, the number of deaths involving drunk driving is scary and unfortunate, but is it really a strong enough reason to make the drinking age 21? Surely more people have died in car accidents resulting from dangerous speed and not from drinking? We have the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, but maybe they should be more concerned with drivers who go way over the speed limit instead. Another thing is that having the drinking age set at 21 reduces the number of drunk driving cases for only those under that age.
I’m not saying it’s good for an 18- year-old to die in an accident as a result of drunk driving, but what’s the difference if this kid instead dies when he’s three years older? The point is that a person isn’t suddenly going to change his personality in three years. Even though I’m only a ‘child’ of 18, if I ever find myself intoxicated in any matter, I refuse to get behind the wheel. This is the sentiment that most people my age share. I’m sure that lawmakers would find it very surprising if they knew that designated drivers actually attend ‘illegal’ drinking parties. Of course, there’s always the person who’s in denial of his own condition and has too much confidence, but the truth is that this person will not magically mature at the age of 21.
In a country that has had such a lasting battle against alcohol, it’s not surprising why America is so strict, but should I really be forced to drive through Tijuana (which is probably more dangerous than any amount of alcohol)? It’s time for this country to take a cue from the rest of the world. I’ll toast to that.

David Syatt is a first-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at dsyatt@uci.edu.