Alcohol Laws: Should the Drinking Age be Lowered?

"Alcohol remains real in the lives of 18, 19 and 20 year-olds, but it is present not in open but behind closed doors" McCardell said.

Although many students agree that alcohol is intrinsic to campus social life, some dispute the ill effects of allowing their under-21 peers to drink legally.

"I think that [drinking] would increase, but not that much; because no matter what age, we can get alcohol," said Rick Stern, a senior at the University of Maryland who opposes changing the drinking age.

Other students think lowering the drinking age would encourage safer drinking.

"[Students] probably wouldn't be as irresponsible," said Steve Kennedy, a recent graduate from Providence College. "They probably wouldn't feel they have to binge drink when they pre-game."

But students do not seem to be clamoring to claim their drinking privileges at 18, despite McCardell's resurrection of the old argument, "If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to drink." In fact, students seem surprisingly apathetic, if not divided, over lowering the drinking age.

A 2005 ABC News poll, taken on the 21st anniversary of the legal drinking limit found that even among young adults aged 34 and under, 73 percent opposed lowering the drinking age. The public at large seems to agree, with 80 percent of those 35 and up supporting legal age 21.

After all, drinking is not protected by the Constitution.

"There's no inherent right to consume alcohol at 18," Wechsler said. "Young people are prevented from doing other things other than drinking," such as running for a seat in Congress.

He added, "If young people are allowed to die in war, they should also be allowed to die on the road?"

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