Lowering the Drinking

The central plank of the debate is the determination of minimum age of drinking. The society will be happier where the states interference is less and where it allows the full freedom and liberty to the citizens with qualified restrictions. The actions taken and legislations passed by the governments are just for the welfare of the state with public policy. The heated discussion on Lowering the Drinking is not a new one and it came into spotlight with Jenna Bush’s arrest for consuming alcohol and buying it with fake identification.

The social contract theory says that men have right to the sovereign to organize them in better way. The sovereign was not a party to the contract. The people authorized and give up the right of governing themselves to the sovereign who came into being as a result of the contract. [1] It is given the right of make laws. Law is the expression of general will.

According to Rousseau “A law is a resolution of the whole people, for the whole people, touching a matter that concerns all”. Law must relate to general interest. It represents the general will. The enactments of the government are merely a corollary of the general will.

So the laws framed regarding the drinking age also should go with the general will.

The national minimum drinking age act, 1984 give 21 years as the minimum age of drinking in USA. In many countries there is no age restriction on the drinking and in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia it is 17 year. The present laws set the age of drinking as 21 [2] and it was 24 years back it came into force. And it is time look back with the resent development in social as well as technological development. There are several issues where the importance of age is taken into account. some of them are

Marriage

Adult franchise

Capital Punishment

Military Services

The above mentioned are very important which are having affinity with the Society, Legislature, Judiciary and Executive (defense). They all prescribed the minimum age of their eligibility’s 18 years. But the age of drinking is declared as 21 years. The detailed discussion of them shows their importance and its relevance to the society.

Marriage:

According to Black law dictionary, “The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife is called marriage.” It is regarded as civil contract by the common law. The essentials of the valid marriage are

1.      the parties are legally capable of contracting marriage

2.      mutual consent or agreement, and

3.      An actual contracting in the form prescribed by law.

The essential ‘The parties are legally capable of contracting marriage’ goes with lot of interpretation. The legally capable to contracting marriage in regarding the age varies from religion to religion generally and with the uniform civil code it is given to the states to make laws on their own.

For a marriage minimum age, license, proof, application, consent for underage applicant is required.

‘SEC. 3. (1) R. S. 1846, Chap. 83 (Amended by Act No. 44, P.A. 1956)

Every person who becomes 18 years of age shall be capable by law of contracting marriage. Every person who becomes 16 years of age but is less than 18 years of age shall be capable of contracting marriage with the written consent of 1 of the parents of the person or the person’s legal guardian, as provided in this section.’[3]

So the eligible age for marriage is 18 and even 16 is allowed with the prescribed procedure. Marriage is one of the important institutions in the society. If the a person is allowed to go with that important responsibility and have the metal power, then why not a person is not allowed to drink at that age.

Voting;

The adult suffrage is the fullest implication of democracy and it is the most striking feature implication of democracy and it is most striking feature of the constitution. The ‘section 1, of the twenty-sixth amendment-reduction of voting age qualification gives the right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the united states or by any state on account of age’.[4]

If the person is eligible to decide which government he want and what will be the pros and cons of that government establishment, cant he think on the drinking and the limits of the drinking. With the development of mass media each and every point of manifesto are clearly analyzed and by taking that inputs only the people are voting. Now the leaders are also focusing on the youth issue which shows their importance in the elections. Being so important decision makers of a future government they can also decide on the level of drinking. So the age of drinking should be brought down to the age of voting right.

Capital Punishment;

Capital punishment is the highest punishment in the penology knows to man. It deprives the criminal’s life and existence. Modern Penologists, jurists, jurisprudents e.t.c preferred it for the grave and heinous crimes only. According to the reformative theory “No one is a born criminal. A criminal is the product of the social and economical circumstances.” Modern psycho-analysts, criminologists, sociologist’s e.t.c are   behind this modern theory. The one of the recent case Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S 551(2005) the Supreme Court held that the minimum age at time of crime to be subject to the death penalty is 18.

The judiciary is regarded as best institution for its reasoning on any issue. If the court itself is defending the decision and declared that at age of 18 the person is reasonably prudent and he have total knowledge about the society why cant it allow the person to drink at  the age of 18. Now almost 19 states and federal government had set a minimum age of 18 for capital punishment

Military services

The person having 18 years of age is eligible to enter into the military services and can serve the nation up to 49 years. Even a person of 17 years of age, with parental permission, can join the U.S. armed services.  There is a strong point that a person with 18 years is serving the nation with commitment, responsibility and attitude to serve the nation. If this is the case cant a person with 18 can’t have liberty drink.

Conclusion:

It is the time to re-look at the existing law with the advancement of the science and technology and improvement is the communication has enhanced the capabilities of a person.[5] The drinking problems can be reduced with alternative legislations. All people should not suffer due to few deterrents, so more though laws on the violators are a good measure.  Now the people are in a position to decide what is good and what is bad by 18 years itself. If the person is able to decide on the marriage, voting and joining into defense services, he can also think as a prudent person on the drinking also. So the minimum age of drinking should be brought down to 18 years.

References:

1.VD. Mahajan, origin of state, Political theory,(1988), 4th edition , S. Chand and Company.

2. Radley Balko, Back to 18, A new chorus of critics says it’s time to lower the drinking age, April 12, 2007
< Marriage Laws, 2008 Washtenaw County, MI

http://www.reason.com/news/show/119618.html>

3. Selected Michigan

<http://ewashtenaw.org/government/clerk_register/cr_clklawsm.html>

 

4.   Reduction Of Voting Age Qualification, 1995,
United States Government Printing Office, http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/html/amdt26.html

5. The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Debate, <http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~jordanlt/alctwo.html>
[1] VD. Mahajan, origin of state, Political theory,(1988), 4th edition , S. Chand and Company.
[2]  Radley Balko, Back to 18, A new chorus of critics says it’s time to lower the drinking age, April 12, 2007
< http://www.reason.com/news/show/119618.html>
[3] Selected Michigan Marriage Laws, 2008 Washtenaw County, MI

<http://ewashtenaw.org/government/clerk_register/cr_clklawsm.html
[4]   Reduction Of Voting Age Qualification, 1995,
United States Government Printing Office, <http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/html/amdt26.html>
[5] The Minimum Legal Drinking Age Debate, <http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~jordanlt/alctwo.html>