Becoming old enough to drink legally is a big milestone in the lives of many young adults. Some countries do not have a minimum drinking age, but among those that do, the age ranges from 16 to 21. In general, the minimum drinking age in the United States is 21, which is one of the highest in the world. However, depending on the state, there might be a number of circumstances in which younger people are allowed to drink.
The 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act set 21 as the minimum age for purchasing and publicly possessing alcohol. However, public possession does not refer to consuming alcohol in these circumstances:
* In private establishments or clubs
* As part of an established religious ritual in the presence of a parent, guardian or spouse who is 21 or older
* For medical purposes when prescribed by a medical professional
* As part of legal employment by a licensed retailer, manufacturer or wholesaler
States set their own laws around these issues. As of 2008, alcohol consumption was completely forbidden for anyone under 21 by eight states: Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
Alcohol consumption was permitted for those under 21 in 20 other states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Wyoming.
The remaining states permitted people under 21 to drink under certain circumstances that varied from state to state.