Why is it that you must be at least 21 years old in the U.S. to purchase and consume alcohol? Some countries allow 18-year-olds to drink while others don’t have any age restriction. That being said, is age an arbitrary number or does it actually hold meaning?
The answer is yes…and no.
Age restrictions on alcohol come down to maturity and brain function. If you’re not mature enough to make legal decisions or experienced enough to understand the consequences of your actions, you’re not old enough to voluntarily decide to alter your brain’s cognitive function.
Despite this logical assumption, various countries have differing opinions on when alcohol-maturity takes hold. Some think it is at eighteen (voting age) while others believe that an additional three years of life-experience is needed when it comes to putting lives at risk.
In 1984, with the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, the United States raised the drinking age limit from 18 to 21 in order to combat the national health concern of teenage drinkers.
The Problem With Underage Drinking
Age restrictions are meant to keep minors from irresponsibly over-doing it. Once a person hits age 21, peer pressure and influence tend to decrease and cognitive reasoning increases. In other words, 21-year-olds are more mature to make reasonable decisions—or are at least old enough to understand and take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, underage drinking is not only linked to poor decision-making, but also to:
- An increased risk for poor graduation rates. Students in states that had a drinking age set at eighteen had a higher risk (13 times greater chance) of dropping out of high school compared to states with an age limit of 21.
- An increased risk of incarceration and extended legal problems. Underage drinkers— especially underage drinking drivers—jeopardize their own health as well as the safety of others while simultaneously breaking the law. As a result, if caught, they place themselves in a situation that can lead to license suspension, misdemeanor charges, and even juvenile detention sentencing—all of which can remain on their permanent record and affect future opportunities.
- An increased risk of DUI accidents. Since the legal drinking age increased to 21 in 1984, the U.S. has seen a 16 percent median decline in motor vehicle crashes.
- An increased risk of death. Drinking contributes to more than 4,300 deaths among people below the age of 21 in the U.S. each year.
Ensuring a “Minor” Accident Doesn’t Yield a Minor Settlement
Although maturity plays a large part in setting limitations to drinking, it doesn’t mean that an immature minor isn’t liable when he causes an accident. If you or a loved one was hurt by an underage drunk driver, you’re still entitled to fair damages. Contact our office today by filling out the convenient contact form provided on this page or by calling us directly at 386.673.4412 to set up a free consultation. Our experienced team will discuss your case and work to secure proper compensation for your injuries. We won’t hold back, no matter the driver’s age.