Drinking age in Amsterdam
The drinking age in Amsterdam is 18. Amsterdam is also notable for being one of the only countries in the world where they allow the smoking of marijuana in special coffee shops. Holland has always had a history of very liberal social values, and they have long maintained a positive attitude toward things normally considered taboo in more conservative cultures. The legal drinking age is no aberration though, and it doesn’t fit into this category. Most of the countries in Europe have a legal drinking age of 18. In Europe, the drinking age is much lower than the United States, where it’s an extreme high, 21.
If you’re a young person, maybe someone from the U.S., and you’re drinking alcohol for the first time at 18 years old, and you are allowed to smoke marijuana legally, you could feel like you’re in heaven.
The drinking age in Amsterdam is a little complicated. At 16, you’re able to purchase spirits and wines that have less than 15% alcohol. From 18 on up, you can purchase alcohol that has a 15% or higher alcohol content. It’s a law that balances out things. Basically, it’s 16 for beer and wine, and it’s 18 for spirits. That’s a pretty sensible policy, really. In most European countries, you can drink alcohol with your meals, and it’s a common custom. However, there’s a big difference between that and getting plastered on hard alcohol. Those that want to drink the really strong stuff have to pass muster by showing that they’re 18 with a picture ID. Those that are 16 and up can still get alcohol, but only the really mild stuff. Supermarkets aren’t even allowed to sell liquor in the country. The market is strictly segregated. They enforce the drinking ban strictly because they want to keep up the integrity of their laws and separate out the ages when someone can drink hard spirits as opposed to just mild beer or wine with their meal. It’s very telling that the Hollanders think of liquor as something that’s its own separate thing and beer and wine as something that more appropriately belongs with foodstuffs, which is why it is sold at supermarkets.
As far as drinking and driving, no one is allowed to drive if they more than .05 blood alcohol content. Driving under the influence is a crime, and it applies to all types of vehicles like bicycles, mopeds, scooters, and motorbikes. All drivers that are under 24 years of age, who have only had their license for less than five years, are subject to a lot stricter rules. The blood alcohol content can’t be over .2. Breaking the law can result in penalties, fines, jail time, and loss of license. Don’t drink and drive when you’re in Amsterdam. If you’re 18, and you’re visiting the country for the first time, then consider just enjoying it, the lowered drinking age, as well as the lax culture. Don’t abuse the system and make them regret that they have a lowered drinking age.