It's Time To Let The Under 21 Crowd Into Bars
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It's Time To Let The Under 21 Crowd Into Bars

A case to combat the epidemic of drunk driving.

It's Time To Let The Under 21 Crowd Into Bars

As part of the 21 and under crowd (but only for six more months!), one of the more embarrassing things that happens to me on a regular basis is being asked by and older friend if I want to go downtown for a drink, only for them to go “Jokes, forgot you’re not 21 yet.”

Now it’s not technically illegal to go into a bar if you’re over 18. However, in most places, college towns especially, you’re carded at the door and you’re not getting in if you’re not 21+. On one hand, fair. Especially on busy weekends or during holidays when the bar is crowded, it would be relatively easy for an older friend to sneak me a drink.

But I’m not concerned about going to a bar for a drink. One, I don’t drink anyways, and two, it would be a rather unreasonable thing to do and risk getting a MIP. I want to hang out and socialize with my friends in a space designed for “young” adults to socialize. I don’t want to be excluded simply because of my age. Give me big black Xs on my hands, give me a bright orange wristband that proclaims I’m underage.

“But just being allowed into bars to socialize isn’t that strong of an argument,” you tell me. Okay, so fine, it’s not. Shouldn’t I just bide my time like everybody else did?

Well, yes. But also, no. There’s more to it than that.

If I, as someone under 21 am going to a bar with my friends, it means I’m not drinking. That means I’m the perfect build in designated driver.

Last April, my cousin turned 21. Her birthday was on a Tuesday, and as a present, I elected to be her DD so that she and her other friends could have a fun time and also have a safe ride home later. On a Tuesday night, (in the middle of April, which is still basically winter in Montana) you might think that the bouncers would be reasonable and let me in with the group.

Instead, on more than one occasion at more than one bar, I stood outside and waited. It wasn’t really that big of a deal, but it also wasn’t the ideal one. By the end of the night, everyone either safely walked, Ubered, or rode back to their homes with me. Everybody was safe, nobody was involved in an accident, and nobody got a DUI.

Now, let's take a look at some statistics:

In Montana alone, 48 percent of all traffic-related deaths are caused by drunk driving accidents. As for the national average, 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths are caused by drunk driving accidents.

On average, almost 3.5 million college-aged students will drive while drunk. Additionally, 30 percent of students surveyed who had consumed alcohol in the past year admitted to driving while intoxicated in the past 30 days.

Why do they do it?

Because they don’t have a designated driver. Ubers, taxis, and Lyfts are also expensive, with Uber and Lyft being guilty of price jacking when the demand increases. After you’ve just shelled out a bunch of money on drinks, paying $20 (or more!) for an Uber ride seems unreasonable, so you get in your car and drunkenly drive home.

“But,” you argue, “they could call you and you could come get them if you want to be a DD. You don’t have to go downtown and then they wouldn’t have to pay for an Uber.”

Yes, they could. Often, however, no matter how many times I say “call me if you need a ride” people don’t. Maybe they’re embarrassed, maybe they don’t want to rouse me from my slumber, maybe they’ve forgotten I even offered. Sure, I’m always willing to be a designated driver, but if I was already out with my friends, I’d be a lot more effective as one.

If the under 21 crowd was allowed into bars, then their 21+ friends would have a safe, reliable ride home.

There’s no doubt that bars, especially in college towns, contribute to an unhealthy binge-drinking culture that prevails in the US. But if bars aren’t going to make it more difficult to binge drink (because really, if they cut out the college demographic, they’re cutting out a huge amount of their profit margin), then the least they could do is make it easier for people to get home safer, namely by letting their under 21 friends hang out and be the DD.

Drunk driving is clearly an issue in the US. It’s time to make changes and encourage safety. So give me that orange wristband that proclaims I’m underage, and let me hang out with my friends and sip on a Shirley Temple and make sure we all get home safely.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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