Drinking age in California
The U.S. drinking laws are a subject of contention. They were generally 21, but changed when the majority age was lowered with the 26th amendment to 18. Then, the drinking ages in most of the states were lowered to match up with the new majority age. This only seemed right because the age at which you could vote and register for the draft should be the same as the age when you could drink.
However, those laws started to change in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Some states started raising their drinking ages to 19. Then, came the federal law pertaining to underage drinking problems, specifically drunk driving, and drunk driving fatalities. It was called the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, and it stipulated that all the states had to bring up the legal age when they could drink, or they would lose 10% of their highway construction funds. This seemed like a way of getting around the 10th Amendment, and allowing the federal government to coerce the states into doing what they wanted them to do.
This was a sore point, and a subject of much debate throughout the years, and there are still some states that are considering lowering their drinking ages to 18. After all, the majority age in this country is 18, and it doesn’t seem right that you shouldn’t be able to drink and do all the adult things at 18, because that’s the age when you can go to war, register for the draft, and vote. So, what’s the issue here? Well, the states had a big problem with drunk driving fatalities, and they wanted to cut down on them. So, they tried to get around the 10th Amendment by withholding 10% of federal highway construction funds unless they did what the government wanted them to do.
The drinking age in California has always seemed to be around 21. That’s kind of unusual for a state that’s always been seen as more liberal. However, they’ve been 21 all throughout the years though.
California is sort of unusual because it had a 21-year-old limit pre-prohibition, post-prohibition, in the 1970s when the 26th Amendment was adopted, and in the 1980s when the Drinking Age Act was passed. In the 21st century, it still remains 21.
Possession of alcohol is prohibited except at a private location, with a parent or legal guardian, or with a spouse that’s over 21. California has a rule about any private location, but that excludes possession in a motor vehicle. California’s law about alcohol possession by a person who’s less than 21 has an exception for a responsible adult relative, but it doesn’t talk about which relatives are included. Youth can purchase alcohol for law enforcement purposes though. Furnishing alcohol to minors is never allowed under any circumstances. Of course, this would not be true in the case of being in a private location with a responsible parent or adult guardian. If you’re unsure about any of California’s drinking laws, consult a local lawyer.