Why do we make young people wait until 21 to drink alcohol?

Many activities have ages of initiation. A person must wait until age 16 to start driving, age 18 to marry without parental consent, age 35 to become president and so on.

The age limit for alcohol is based on research which shows that young people react differently to alcohol. Teens get drunk twice as fast as adults,9 but have more trouble knowing when to stop. Teens naturally overdo it and binge more often than adults.

Enforcing the legal drinking age of 21 reduces traffic crashes,4-6 protects young people’s maturing brains,12,14 and keeps young people safer overall.

4. Fell, J.; “Minimum Legal Drinking Age Policy Knowledge Asset,” website created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Substance Abuse Policy Research Program; March 2009.

6. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Center for Statistics and Analysis “Lives Saved in 2012 by Restraint Use and Minimum Drinking Age Laws” DOT HS 811 851 A Brief Statistical Summary 2013. Read more

12. Shults, Ruth A., Elder, Randy W., Sleet, David A., Nichols, James L., Alao, Mary O. Carande-Kulis, Vilma G., Zaza, Stephanie, Sosin, Daniel M., Thompson, Robert S., and the Task Force on Community Preventive Services. “Reviews of Evidence Regarding Interventions to Reduce Alcohol-Impaired Driving.” Am J Prev Med 2001;21(4S). Read more

14. Zeigler DW, Wang CC, Yoast RA, Dickinson BD, Mccaffree MA, Robinowitz CB, et al. The Neurocognitive Effects of Alcohol on Adolescents and College Students. Prev Med 2005 Jan;40(1):23-32.  Read more


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.