As a nation, we have tried prohibition legislation twice in the past for controlling irresponsible drinking problems. This was during National Prohibition in the 1920's and state prohibition during the 1850's. These laws however, were found to be unenforceable and caused other social problems. Today, we are repeating history and making the same mistakes that occurred in the past.
Prohibition did not work then, and prohibition for people under the age of 21 is not working now. The solution is to lower the drinking age to 18. Historically, the drinking age was lowered to 18 during the Vietnam War, when the drunk driving rate increased. Instead of attacking drunk driving overall, we set up laws that targeted a demographic group, by raising the drinking age to 21. Research has shown a continuous decrease in drinking and driving, however this is the result of many factors: education concerning drunk driving, designated driver programs, increased seat belt and air bag usage, safer automobiles, lower speed limits, etc. Although the legal purchase age is 21 years of age, a majority of college students under this age consume alcohol but in an irresponsible manner.
This is because drinking is seen as an enticing "forbidden fruit," a "badge of rebellion against authority" and a symbol of "adulthood." In order to get a drink, teenagers will carry fake ID's, or sneak drinks from their parents' liquor cabinets. This kind of attitude doesn't encourage responsible drinking. Furthermore, when the opportunity to drink arises, there is a kind of "Let's make up for lost time" attitude. The result is underground binge drinking. American teenagers, unlike European, Asian, Canadian, Latin American, and numerous other teen cultures, do not learn to drink gradually, safely, and in moderation.
Alcohol is neither seen as a poison nor a magic potent because it is so common, and there is no social pressure to drink. Though the rate per person is higher in countries other then the US, the rate of alcoholism and alcohol abuse is lower. This comes from educated and gradual drinking. Young people learn to regard drinking as an enjoyable social activity rather than something they have to sneak around to do. So what are we left with? An arbitrary restriction, based on faulty logic. There are no clear reasons why those over 21 can drink, and those under 21 cannot.
Why is 21 the magical age that makes one intelligent and mature enough to consume alcohol? Why not 18 or 35 or 47? At 18, you can vote, serve and die for your country, get married, you are tried as an adult in the federal court, you pay taxes, vote, and have all of the responsibilities of the other citizens. Why is it that this group cannot drink? Without a clear reason, no group of citizens should be denied rights given to others. So logically, we should extend the right to drink to all adult citizens.