Turning 18 is a major event for all Americans because they are now considered legal adults. Being a legal adult, one can legally buy tobacco products, vote in an election, own firearms, be tried as an adult in court, enlist in the armed forces, serve jury duty, and even purchase pornography. Even though one is now considered a legal adult with all of these privileges, 18 to 20 years olds are denied the right to purchase and drink alcohol.
It has not always been this way. In 1984, the Uniform Drinking Age Act was passed. This law did not force all states to switch to the drinking age of 21, but threatened to decrease federal funding to each state's transportation fund if they did not comply within two years. Before this law was passed, each state varied on their drinking age from 18-21 years old. The national drinking age became a national issue when the founder of MADD, (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) Cathy Lightner, claimed that 18-20 year old drinkers were causing many auto accidents. The statistics that she used, however, were inaccurate and misleading. For instance, the statistics used to show the number of 18-20 year olds in alcohol-related accidents, included people who were riding with parents or other adults that were drinking and driving. The media then used these misleading statistics and excessively covered this issue. This caused many to join MADD in their efforts to raise the drinking age by writing letters to congress to change the law. After making enough racket, the national drinking age of 21 went into full effect in 1987.
Since then, this law has done little to stop young adults from using or abusing alcohol. When the minimum drinking age was being introduced, binge drinking was actually higher in states with the 21 minimum drinking age then with ones with lower ages. Now, a 1999 Harvard survey says drinking has gotten so bad that that two out of every three underage college students drank al