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Check This: Underage Drinking

England is considering giving police the power to confiscate alcohol from any person under 18 years old who is carrying it in public. Currently, officers can only take booze if they have reasonable suspicion that the minor has been drinking it, or is going to drink it.

The fact that England is even debating this issue shows how attitudes and laws about youth drinking vary from country to country. While binge drinking or driving under the influence is dangerous no matter where you live, Americans seem to have a hypocritical stance toward underage drinking.

A vast majority of us had a drink before the legal age (21 years old), but we still subject the youth to harsh penalties for possessing, purchasing, drinking, or being in the presence of alcohol. Sometimes I wonder if our unrealistic laws actually encourage irresponsible drinking.

Do you think 21 years old is too tough?


Join The Conversation
sparkleluvr sparkleluvr 9 years
We need to do a better job enforcing the laws governing underage drinking, because it won't matter what that age limit is if it is not actually enforced. And, by the way, that includes Hollywood celebs who we know are too young to drink and yet we see their picture taken all the time at clubs drinking but nothing ever seems to be done about it.
FinnKelley FinnKelley 9 years
I think 18 is fair enough, I grew up with a European(Russian and Irish) family so I always had wine available for dinner and other drinks for special occasions. I consider myself more adjusted and prepared than other people my age when it comes to alcohol. Teenagers in America tend to put it on a pedestal, they associate it with rebelliousness and bragging rights to their friends. If you grow up with a more mature understanding of alcohol you're less likely to binge when you do finally get access. You also have the well being of having parents that assume you're drinking anyway, so if you have issues they're much easier to get help with. Then again, I grew up with a family that never got drunk but drank most everyday - Drinking for pleasure, not seeing it as some sort of competition. It's unfortunate kids in America reach the drinking age without any gauge for tolerance levels or responsibility, the laws and taboos on it cause more death and injury than otherwise.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
If they lower, don't think that it wont get around and effect Prom season. I would really hate to hear of fatalities on the road because some think, 'well, you can vote, go ahead and drink too'. Anyone who drinks and is underage, imo, isnt penalized enough. I dare anyone to say that something positive has ever come from drinking. It doesn't make you smart, cool, nor does it make you any healthier.
DARiEN DARiEN 9 years
once the number of drunk driving accidents and alcohol overdose goes down and STAYS down for about five years, then maybe we should think about it. but i dont see the point in lowering it, america already has enough problems.
apinkpony apinkpony 9 years
It's sad for me to realize that even though there are so many "liberally" minded people who understand what, how and why it needs to change, that it will never change because our countries culture has taught us that alcohol is such a bad thing, and the circle continues... My mother taught my brother and I in the classic German style of how to be responsible, drink in moderation, and it is not something to get "wasted" from, but to enjoy. I don't think 18 is too young, but I do think perhaps like European countries we should have it staggered so that at 16 you can drink wine/beer/etc, and you have to wait 2 years to drink hard alcohol. I also think you shouldn't be able to drive until your 18. Another thought is that in Germany the fine for drinking and driving is HUGE!!! A large fine along with losing your license. That makes a lot more sense. Plus it costs a lot to get your license, so you don't want to screw that up...
apinkpony apinkpony 9 years
Yes. It's ridiculous. Let's face it. Any 18 year old who wants to drink is going to be able to drink anyway. And by telling them its illegal, we're just causing problems for them. If it was more like European countries, we would have a lot less problems with drinking and driving and alcohol abuse. In Germany, 16 year olds can drink beer/etc and once your 18 you can have hard alcohol. Families are more laid back about alcohol, and it never becomes a problem like it is here. Students are worried to death to come home intoxicated, so they make it home in a safe and responsible manner. It's true that there may be a period of time after we dropped the drinking age, that things might be a little, weird. But if parents would just start being realistic with their kids, and we lowered the age, it would be a better world for everyone :)
laluna27 laluna27 9 years
bibiruby82 bibiruby82 9 years
I agree with Piper23, if you're old enough to vote, drive, fight a war, or even play the lottery(in some cases), then you should be able to drink. I'm starting to wonder whether or not the law encourages underage drinking as well. However, that's just my view there.
CoconutPie CoconutPie 9 years
In some countries (Germany) kids can legally buy beer at 16 and stronger alcohols at 18. Are German kids more intelligent or better? Probably not. And from what I've seen when I lived there, they don't have more problems. I think the culture has a lot to do.
shouldbeworking shouldbeworking 9 years
I read that the reason the requirement is set at 21 is because the male liver is not fully developed until about age 20. That could be false but it sounds reasonable. 21 isn't too old. Wait your dang three years. You have the rest of your life to drink.
VennieB VennieB 9 years
I think 21 is definitely too old. Making it illegal only encourages unsafe behaviour. I'm Canadian, and our legal drinking age is 19 - in other words, during your first or second year of university. Most people are going to drink in university regardless, you might as well make it legal so there's less of a chance that they'll do something stupid.
XSofieX XSofieX 9 years
whoops "glass of wine"
XSofieX XSofieX 9 years
yeah I agree 21 is too old, it was so ridiculous when my family was in New York and my sister who's 20 wasn't allowed a cass of wine at dinner! Over here the limit is 16 for private consumption and 18 in bars and clubs
sweetrae80 sweetrae80 9 years
It should def be 18 in the US because you are legally an adult. You can vote, go to war, etc. so you should be able to drink. Everybody knows that the only reason the age is 21 is because the fed gov provides states with money for raising the age. I think it would help people to not binge when they move out or go to college.
KadBunny KadBunny 9 years
My boyfriend lives in England so I do this compare/contrast thing all the time and it's astounding really. Just like with sex, they (govt, clubs, heck even parents) are pretty loose on alcohol and while people definitely make asses of themselves, I really think that giving them that certain degree of freedom and trust is the reason why they're less likely to abuse it. It's just me of course but I really think for most of the youth here, drinking is just a form of rebellion whereas there it's honestly just for fun, and they know when it gets much. At least he does. :) He's my perfect example of a smart drinker.. as silly as it sounds, heehee.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
It should be 18 - lets get with the program. Responsibility about alcohol needs to be taught, not prohibition to those under the age of 21 - I had my first drink WAAAAY early, but my parents always exemplified how to enjoy alcohol for taste, quality, etc. and it never occurred to me to get completely wasted as 'fun'. It's too easy to attain alcohol underage, anyway - older siblings, older friends, fake IDs, chalked IDs, parties, etc.
veronicaraye veronicaraye 9 years
kids wouldn't see it as rebelling so much if they were just taught how to drink without abusing it.
meumitsuki meumitsuki 9 years
The drinking age is actually a state's rights issues, but the federal government threatened to withhold federal money for roads if all states didn't make it 21. They did this because in the NE, where states are so close together, kids would drive to the state where the age was 17 or 18 to drink and then drive home killing themselves or innocent bystanders. I think 18 should be the driving age and your license should be alot harder to get. Then maybe 19 drinking age to ensure they are out of high school?
x_juicyfruit x_juicyfruit 9 years
At eighteen, one is able to vote, get married, smoke (ew), go to war, etc. One should be able to drink, as well.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I've always thought they should flip the driving and drinking ages. I mean're responsible enough to go hurtling down the road at killer speeds in two tons of steel but not enough to drink a beer? Ridiculous. And, I don't necessarily mean that you should be able to drink at 16 and drive at 21. I just think driving is a much bigger responsibility than drinking. And I also think if you were drinking before you were driving, we'd have a lot less problems with drinking and driving - people would already be used to having to make other arrangements and not be so dependent on hopping in their cars.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
*Clarification* When I said they couldn't buy it, I mean like buy a 6pack or a bottle of vodka. They could be SERVED alcohol though.
Advah Advah 9 years
I always feel unsure about these laws: it's a good thing to try and reduce binge drinking, but will that just encourage kids to drink in their room? Hidden drinking is maybe worse than drinking. I'm always afraid they'll get out of control when 18, just because alcohol is such a taboo when you're underage.. It might also just be an attempt at making streets look "clean" - I don't know the details of the law, but in Scotland it's illegal to be drinking alcohol in the streets. Which means you can drink as much as you want at your place or at the pub, but if you have to go somewhere else, put the bottle of wine in your bag. I just hope they won't turn this new law into something like that, underage drinking needs to be faced and not hidden.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
I agree that 21 is too old, but I also think that 18 is too young. I, like many people I know, turned 18 when I was in high school, while it was still the fall semester too. I do NOT think that anyone attending high school should be able to legally purchase alcohol. But as I said, 21 is too old. Most kids drink a lot between the ages of 19-21, and only learn to do so irresponsibly. I'm not sure what the solution is, but some sort of graduated system would be good. I have no idea how a graduated program could be develop though. Every possible scenario I can think of I could see being abused. Like perhaps 18 year olds could be served alcohol only at establishments that served food (but not the normal "bar/club"), but couldn't buy it. Or, they could only purchase beer or low alcohol content drinks. I don't know... As I said, 18 is too young in my opinion (and I felt that way as an 18 year old!), and 21 is too old (and I felt that way as a 21 year old!)
luvthebosox luvthebosox 9 years
I agree that the drinking age should be 18. It's so easy for any minor to get alcohol, that 21 just seems so arbitrary to me. I absolutely agree that DUI penalties should be quite a bit harsher, particularly for repeat offenders. I was arrested for DUI when I was 22 and it involved a lot of jumping through hoops and it was very expensive! It really blows my mind that after that experience, that anyone would do it again. I partied like Lindsey Lohan up until that point, and it was a huge wake up call for me, but for so many people it's not. Just about everyone who has drank alcohol has driven when they shouldn't have (it is MUCH easier to get to the legal limit than most people realize). I think you get to make that mistake once, and then the penalties should be far more severe.
Swangeese Swangeese 9 years
I really think that the drinking age should be lowered to 18. There is no good reason to keep a beer out of an adult's hand. And I also agree with everyone upthread about increasing the penalties for a DWI.
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