Drinking vs. Driving

Andrea Lefevre

Coming from Denmark, I see many differences in how matters are handled in Europe compared to the West. An example of this is legislations on Drinking and Driving. Being 16 I notice that rules are very different for young people living in Denmark versus America.

Drinking

In Denmark you can buy alcohol and drink it in private and public places when you have turned 16. In bars and clubs you need to be 18.

How we handle it? Well, I do not see any problems in it. Not within my own experience. We sometimes get a few drinks and have parties at home with our parents knowing.

Sometimes someone gets too drunk, but we always take care of each other and call for their parents to come at take them home.

The benefit of it is that our parents always know where we are and what we are doing. We do not have to tell lies and sneak around like youngsters have to do in other countries if they want to drink….

Driving

In the States you can drive – or learn to drive when you are 15. In Denmark you need to be 18. And it is a long process learning to drive there. You take a course consisting of many lessons of theory and driving. It takes about 3 months and then you get the license which cost at least 2000 dollars. I think it is responsible for young people to not be able to drive until the age of 18. You need to know and be aware of consequences of driving too wild and fast, something you learn with time.

Compared to the allowed drinking age in Denmark, it makes good sense that you can not drink and drive at the same time – before the age of 18. And then it is still illegal and considered a crime because of the bad cocktail.

The idea of getting practice/training by a parent or an older sibling like they do  in America is a good idea. People also do this in Denmark, but it is illegal and takes place at beaches or abandoned roads.

I see good things and bad things for both. As an American you might wonder if by being allowed to drink at 16, there is a greater alcohol usage? And as a Dane, who has grown up in the Danish society, I would say no. I do not have any friends, nor do I know of anybody who has been struggling with alcohol problems. I just think we know how to control it, because we have had a lot of experience with it.

In my opinion, I like the Danish way of doing it. Not because I just want to drink as early as possible, but because of safety. I think by kids learning how much to drink and how to control it, before they start driving, results in a lot less car accidents from kids being drunk and driving. And sure it would be sweet if I was able to drive now, but there is public transport all over Denmark, so it is no problem getting around.