Since 1988, the drinking age has been set at 21 in all states throughout the country. While some states had a lower legal age for consuming alcohol in the 1970’s, a series of drunk driving crashes prompted the age to be raised to 21 nationwide.
Since that time, there have been various arguments made periodically suggesting that the drinking age should be lowered back down to 18. Some of these arguments suggest that a lower drinking age would make alcohol less forbidden and less attractive. Others argue that the drinking age is lower in Europe and that youths are less prone to alcohol-related injury there; while still others allege that there should be a lowered drinking age since most young people ignore the current laws and drink anyway.
Despite these arguments, most safety advocates are against a lowered drinking age. Now, a new study conducted at Boston University’s School of Public Health provides more conclusive evidence that lowering the drinking age would increase drunk driving accidents and cause lost lives. Victims of drunk driving accidents with underage drivers can pursue a damage claim against the teens who drink and hurt them, and a Boston drunk driving lawyer can help.
Drunk Driving and a Lower Drinking Age
The recent paper on underage drinking is called “Case Closed,” and it compiled years of research on the effects of the drinking age. The research showed that heavy drinking among college students dropped from 43 percent in 1988 to 36 percent in 2011.
The research also evaluated claims suggesting that alcohol was less of a problem for young people in Europe. The data suggests that this myth is not true. In fact, alcohol use was found to be more prevalent among youth in 35 European nations than in the United States. While only 36 percent of high school sophomores in the United States had been drunk at some point in their lives, 47 percent of European sophomores admitted they had been intoxicated.
Keeping the drinking age at 21 instead of lowering it to 18 may prevent as many as 900 traffic accident fatalities according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and “Case Closed” confirmed that lives are saved by the current rules.
While many teens may disregard the laws and drink even though they are not 21, the very fact that consuming alcohol is illegal is likely to make them more cautious. This effect can be compared to speed limit laws. While drivers may disobey a speed limit of 65 and travel at between 70 and 75, this still keeps them in check. Increasing the speed limit to 70 would thus prompt drivers to travel at 80 mph. The drinking age of 21 has a similar effect, since underage drinkers know they are breaking the law and thus may be more likely to be careful not to take further risks like driving drunk.
If you or a loved one was involved in a drunk driving accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries:
Officer Accused of Drunk Driving with Child in Vehicle, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, January 5, 2014