drinking age

The debate over the legal drinking age usually comes down to: If you’re old enough to serve on a jury, die for your country and decide who should be president, are you old enough to drink?

Why is the Legal Drinking Age 21?

The drinking age is 21 because of the passing of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984. This law basically told states that they had to enact a minimum drinking age of 21 or lose up to ten percent of their federal highway funding. Since that’s some serious cash on the line, the states jumped into action fairly quickly.

Was 21 picked out of a hat?

No. actually 21 was the age at which a person could, among other things, vote and become a knight. Since a person was an official adult at age 21, it seemed to make sense that they could drink too.

Why is the drinking age no longer 18?

Believe it or not, Franklin Roosevelt approved lowering the minimum age for the military draft from 21 to 18 during World War II. When the Vietnam-era draft rolled around, people were understandably a bit peeved that 18-year-old men were mature enough to fight, but not old enough to vote. Later, in 1971, the states ratified the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18. Legislators started applying the same logic to drinking. The drinking age, mandated by individual states, started dropping around the country.

The creation of  “Blood Borders”

Critics of the change saw the rise in alcohol-related traffic fatalities among 18-20 year-old drivers in areas where the drinking age had been lowered. Once states had the power to establish their own drinking age the creation of “blood borders” ensued between states. When bordering states had different drinking ages, there was a lot of  teenagers from the more restrictive states driving into one state where they could buy booze, drink, and then drive home. This created a storm of traffic fatalities.

As of this result of all the alcohol related traffic fatalities, 16 states had increased their drinking age back to 21 by 1983.  In 1984, President Reagan signed into law the Uniform Drinking Age Act mandating all states to adopt 21 as the legal drinking age within five years. By 1988. all states had set 21-years-old as the minimum drinking age.

Since that time, the National Mini,in Drinking Age Act has saved about 900 lives per year.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In short, there are more than 25,000 people alive today because of the change in the legislation.