One thing I just can't get used to in Greece is seeing someone drinking a mug of beer in a fast food restaurant. Sixteen-year-olds can drink here and no one gets their panties in a wad about alcohol consumption, no matter where it is. I almost never hear about drunk driving accidents, and I rarely see people walking around town shit-faced drunk (except for a few tourists).
I find it in interesting that you find the reverse to be true in the U.S., which is less permissive regarding alcohol consumption than Greece. Drunk driving accidents are fairly common in America, I can see openly drunk people walking around any given night (at least, in Nashville), and you can't drink until you are twenty-one. And you certainly can't buy a beer in Burger King.
It would seem that a permissive society makes people happier and more responsible. Either that or it makes them indifferent.