Why is the Legal Drinking Age 21 in the United States?
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Who Can Legally Consume Alcohol Under Age 21?
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As previously mentioned, the states have the power over setting the minimum drinking age within their borders. However, all the states have set their minimum drinking age at 21 in order to be in compliance with NMDAA. But NMDAA allows some exceptions to underage alcoholic consumption and/or possession.

Some federal exceptions include:
  • Religious purposes (consumption & possession)
  • Medical purposes (consumption & possession)
  • Employment and private club (possession)
  • Parental exception (consumption & possession)
Under the religious and medical exceptions, underage consumption and possession of alcohol is allowed in certain situations. For example, a minor (i.e. under age 18) is allowed to drink wine at church in a religious ceremony. A minor could also be allowed to consume alcohol based on a doctor’s medical orders.

Under the employment and private club exception, an 18 year old can work at a liquor store, bar, or restaurant and serve alcohol, but cannot consume the alcohol. However, a state’s law can be stricter than federal law and require the person to be 21 years old to serve alcohol.

As for the parental exception, approximately 30 states allow it. Here’s how it generally works:

A minor under the age of 21 can legally drink alcohol if given the drink by his or her parent (or legal guardian), and in the presence of his or her parent. For example, a minor can legally drink alcohol in a restaurant, as long as the child’s parent orders the drink, and gives the drink to the minor without leaving the presence of the minor. However, if the parent gets up and goes to the bathroom and the minor takes a sip of alcohol without the parent being present, then the parent can be in violation of the law.

Some restaurants may say it is not their policy to allow anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, even if the parent gives the alcohol to the child. A restaurant has the right to do this but the parent could just leave the restaurant and go somewhere else. Because of this, most restaurants would not say anything so as to not lose customers.

Therefore, all you parents out there should know that you might be able to legally buy a beer for your high school graduate in a restaurant if your state allows it.

In order to find out how you can tell that a friend or a loved is in need of help for alcoholics, you need to know the signs and symptoms of alcoholism.

Next, we’ll take a final look at why the legal drinking age is 21 in the United States.

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