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UNF Spinnaker

    Drinking AND driving privileges should be redefined.

    The hype associated with the Amethyst Initiative has at least brought up genuine debate and the question of whether 18-year-olds are mature enough to drink. I think that university presidents challenging the federal de facto drinking age shows that even socially responsible educators are seeing the pros to challenging what I like to call ‘old thinking.’

    There are those benchmark years in every adolescence life that often marks privileges more so than responsibility in celebration. Sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one. All of us know exactly what those years meant in terms of exercising privileges. Drivers licenses, tobacco and adult entertainment, and finally alcohol. But does this progression of advancing freedom really serve as best practices?

    It is widely accepted that teen drinking will not cease. It is that challenge of defying the law, coupled with teens’ propensity to see driving as both a privilege and means to escape from parental supervision that empowers youngsters to party and break’the rules.’

    I submit that driving is a privilege that should be earned based on competence and maturity, not to mention responsibility. The fact that drinking is allowed at 16 and 18 in many other countries does not reflect backward thinking, but a realistic approach to social norms and culture. In a country that respects and allows varying religions, sexual preferences and free choice, a norm as widespread as the consumption of alcohol is heavily regulated. It is a right, reserved only for ‘adults,’ while minors everyday are forced to adopt illegal tactics to enjoy a beer with their friends. It has become a criminal act to enjoy, as minor, a past time that is as regular as baseball.

    Driving on the other hand is a privilege that any 16-year-old can attain by passing an [often] simple road test and written exam. An informal survey conducted by Helium.com shows that over 90% of voters agree that driving is a privilege that can be revoked. The fact that Germany reserves driving privileges to those at least 18 who pass extensive road tests, challenging theoretical examinations and much higher application fees attests to the level of maturity that drivers in Germany hold.

    I would say that our highways are riddled with drivers holding the bare minimum of driving knowledge. They can recognize a stop sign, and … well thats about it. Many drivers ignore other important rules of the road that keep drivers safe. Drive in the right lane, pass in the left. This is a basic safety precaution that many drivers in our country simply ignore (yet strictly enforced on German roads). I am forced to pass a slow driver on the left almost daily. Its not safe, and I am not even going in to that lesson.

    I submit that drinking responsibly can and should be instilled at a younger age, rather than criminalizing an action that inevitably will happen at younger ages. What we have our inexperienced and immature drivers on the road looking to drink with friends. What do we get? Youngsters drinking at unsupervised social events and getting behind the wheel with limited experience. What do we need? Knowledgeable drivers who have already learned from experience the volatile effects of alcohol.


    Alcohol, licenses, tobacco and adult entertainment.

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