Last week was the 30th anniversary of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which essentially forced states to bump up their minimum drinking age to 21 unless they wanted to miss out on highway funding from the federal government. For the most part, this law came into existence because of a critical social and health problem: people between the ages of 16 and 20 were the most common drunk drivers, and in 1982 roughly 61 percent of fatal car accidents involved a "young driver."
Here we can see a clear indicator that the drinking age law worked. In 1995, only about 31 percent of fatal car accident involved a "young driver."
However, another study points to a serious problem with the law. The study found that underage drinking may have actually increased as a result of the law. Specifically, the study looked at 56 colleges and found that "significantly more underage students drank compared to those of legal age" and that the drinking law may have actually been "counterproductive" in combating underage drinking.
So why do we bring this up? Well, we're certainly not advocating for the age limit to be dropped -- but it's clear the drinking age isn't fixing the problem, nor is such a law likely to ever fix the problem. Teens and young adults are bound to seek out risky behaviors.
Given that this is a natural tendency for younger people, it is amazing how harshly we punish these people when they are arrested for drinking and driving. A DWI can change the course of a young person's life, forever ruining the potential they once had. The penalties associated with drinking and driving are severe enough to inflict this kind of life-altering damage. Defending these charges is imperative, no matter your age and no matter the circumstances.
Source: FOX News Latino, "Drinking Age Law Cut Car Accidents But Increased Underage Drinking, Survey Shows," KDVR, July 16, 2014