Teens Disregard Drinking Age

, Editorial Board

The Center for Disease Control reports that about 39 percent of minors (those under the age of 21) have consumed alcohol in the previous month. In this day and age, especially in the high school years, people often turn to drinking to relieve stress. This is prominent in teen drinkers looking for a way to relax on the weekends after a tough week at school.

Legally, any blood alcohol content is illegal for a minor; however, this does not seem to deter minors from consuming it. Because it is illegal for teens to drink, it leads to quick consumption – such as at a Friday night party or during the few hours when parents aren’t present. Teenagers often think that this brief window is the only time they will have an opportunity to drink, so they turn to “binge drinking,” or a brief period characterized by excessive alcohol consumption. Not only is this illegal, but extremely dangerous. Binge drinking can lead to problems such as: vomiting, neurologic damage, cardiac problems, as well as psychiatric disorders depending on how frequently it occurs.

Needless to say, enforcing a drinking age of 21 does not seem to prevent underage drinking. There are some places where the drinking age is 18 or lower, and in these places it does not seem to be a problem. This could be because of the way these children are raised around alcohol. They become accustomed to it and it no longer seems as exciting or as scandalous as it does to some teens when they are faced with the age restriction.

In addition, when parties do occur that include underage drinking and police arrive to shut them down, it can result in something more disastrous than consumption of alcohol; fear causing teens to jump in their cars drunk and drive away from the scene even if they didn’t intend to drink and drive. No one wants to get in trouble with a policeman, so they turn to running away or driving recklessly.

Drinking is not a safe activity, but if one is to drink there are certain ways to make sure that they don’t put themselves or others in harms way. As the school year comes to an end and summer comes into focus, teenagers are apt to have more and more parties – many of which will include alcohol.
As of Jan. 1, 2011, California law states if a minor is in danger due to drinking, you can call the police or the hospital without getting in trouble for consumption of alcohol. This law, actually brought on by Miramonte alum Caroline Cook, was enacted in hopes to protect teens engaged in underage drinking. Next, although there is the “year rule” for new drivers, it is considered acceptable for one to be driving past the 11:00 p.m. curfew if they are driving to pick up an intoxicated person, because this helps people stay safe. Lastly, the Orinda Taxi (which you can reach by call or text at 925-482-7112) will pick up intoxicated people and drive them home at any hour of the night, returning them to their cars the next morning if necessary. Orinda Taxi will not require payment, and they do not ask any questions regarding the student’s current state. Safety precautions are the most important thing when presented with drinking of any kind.

The Editorial Board voted 8-1 that  the drinking age does not prevent underage drinking.