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John M. McCardell Jr.’s commentary, entitled “Drinking Age of 21 Doesn't Work,” raises public awareness about the ineffectiveness of the current drinking age and the current initiatives that are underway to promote responsible drinking. McCardell’s main point is simple: The national minimum legal drinking age of 21, established in the 1980s to reduce alcohol-related accident fatalities, is not effective in promoting drinking responsibility or keeping civilians safe (McCardell).
McCardell argues that although drunk-driving related fatalities have decreased over the last quarter-century, the results are due to increased public awareness and safety education and have little relevancy to the increased minimum legal drinking age (McCardell). Furthermore, the current legal drinking age does nothing to resolve “the problem today,” which is the “reckless, goal-oriented alcohol consumption” known as binge drinking (McCardell). As the studies that McCardell points toward show, incidents of binge drinking have not only remained the same among college men but have actually “increased” among college women since the legal drinking age was raised (McCardell).
In response to the perceived ineffectiveness of the legal drinking age, several organizations are calling for a revision of the drinking age law, which simply (and ineffectively) demands people not to drink before a certain age. Instead of restricting alcohol, these organizations propose a lowered age limit (comparable with the rest of the world’s), increased alcohol education or even an alcohol licensing system to teach young adults how to drink responsibly and in moderation, which will be more effective than simply telling a certain age group not to drink at all.