As a teenager, writer Courtney Love Gavin suggested the value of a learner’s permit for drinking safely. She argued that we issue learner permits to help people drive safely. Here is her opinion piece.
The transformation of going from a child to an adult does not happen overnight. It is a metamorphosis that happens over time. You progress from crawling to walking to sprinting. Although it may seem that time flies, it actually takes place gradually in a natural progression.
On most things in my life the more I practiced and was familiar with something, the greater results I achieved. I would not have been able to write my personal statement for college without the years of practice. A prime example of a step on the ladder to adulthood is the privilege to drive.
But in order to drive I had to receive my license. I got it by passing my driver’s test and logging in more than 100 hours driving with a parent. And, of course, going to driving school. I would not have been able to drive with my parents without obtaining my permit. My permit came through passing a written exam and attending driving school for the first time.
I had to go through all of this preparation in order to drive at the age of 16. Driving is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Accidents can happen very quickly and are numerous among drivers my age. The purpose of the learner’s permit was to let me slowly adapt to the world of driving.
To avoid all this, I could just wait until I am 18 and skip half of the preparation. Because once you are 18 you are an adult. You can smoke, vote, marry and serve our country. All three being things that, in the eyes of our government, only an adult can handle. Then why I ask, can one not drink until the age of 21?
What is it that makes drinking a more grave danger than smoking or going into war. At 18 I can join the armed forces and risk my life. But I cannot have a glass of wine with my dinner at a restaurant?
Heart disease is the number one killer for women and smoking has been a major contributor to this problem. But it is okay for me to smoke three years earlier than I may legally drink.
I do not mean to downplay the effects of drinking by any means. There is alcoholism, drunk driving, and binge drinking. However, some of the problems with drinking could be prevented with a more enlightened approach.
Learner’s Permit for Drinking
If a “learner’s permit” were available for drinking, then adults under 21 would learn how to drink safely. Drinking gradually and in moderation seem like a much healthier approach than just letting one have no limits later on.
You do not teach a child to write a sentence by asking them to write an essay. So why is it nothing has been done about drinking responsibly until it is too late. Not once in four years of high school has drinking been treated in a way other than “don’t.” But there seems to be no why behind the reason. The effects and consequences of drinking under age have not been covered.
The current regulations for drinking seem to be like a stoplight. It is red until you are twenty one and then green for the rest of your life. As you may notice the yellow light has been taken out of the picture. I think that if it were put back in the amount of people drinking responsibly would go up greatly.
But until anything is changed, I will still become an 18 year old who can smoke. Who can marry, vote and go to war. But who cannot have Kahlua in her coffee.
Resources: A Learner’s Permit for Drinking
- Drinking Learner Permits for Adults Under Age 21.
- For Underage Adults: Drinking “Learner Permits.”
- Drinking Learners Permit Would Reduce Alcohol Abuse.
McCardell, J. Let Them Drink at 18, With a Learners Permit. New York Times, May 28, 2012.
McCarthy, C. Should We Have a Drinking Learners Permit for Alcohol, Too? Huffington Post, Sept 20, 2013.
Posted by permission of author from “A learner’s permit for drinking” in the Morgan Hill Times.