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Drinking age in Colorado

There was no known drinking age for Colorado prior to 1919 when Prohibition was passed. After Prohibition, in 1933, there was no drinking age. However, in 1945, it was changed to 18. With the 26th Amendment passage in 1971, the drinking age was changed to 18. The drinking age was raised to 21 in 1987 to meet the National Minimum Drinking Age Act guidelines. It is still 21 to this day.

In Colorado, there are very liberal exceptions to the national minimum drinking age of 21. For example, there is drinking allowed with the permission of a parent, even where they don’t sell alcohol. However, where they don’t sell alcohol, there is no drinking by a minor, even if they have the permission of a parent. There is also drinking for religious reasons and medical reasons. There is also drinking for educational purposes. There is also drinking when there’s reporting medical need because of underage drinking for some other young person.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act put the drinking age at 21, but that doesn’t mean that all the states have to abide it by exactly. As is obvious, there are stipulations and exceptions in every state that allow drinking under certain circumstances. Colorado is a state that’s always has a libertarian spirit, and they didn’t even have a drinking age for a very long time. Plus, it’s one of the states that has more of the exceptions to the national drinking age than do many other states. That’s just the way that Colorado is. That’s the spirit of their people, and that’s how they express their freedom, or at least one of the ways.

Colorado was a state that’s had very low drinking ages, historically, compared to other states. It had no drinking age before Prohibition, and it’s interesting to wonder what kind of people were there that it was normal to drink for minors, and that there were no prohibitions against it. Even when they did institute a drinking age, as late as 1945, it was 18, and it wasn’t as high as some of the other states at 21.

Colorado hasn’t had much of a movement to make the drinking age much higher over the years, and it wasn’t until the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, in 1983, that the state was forced to change its drinking age, or risk losing 10% of its federal highway funds in future years. It’s interesting that Colorado was so brazen in not even having a drinking age after Prohibition. The kind of people in Colorado have always been a little different, and they’ve had more of an attitude geared toward personal freedom and personal, individual expression.

In the case of a minor drinking on the property of some parent who is over the age of 21, the owner has to be aware that there is underage drinking going on at his property. He has to have some kind of supervisory or chaperone role.




  1. brian levy says:

    Recently I changed planes in Denver. Having some time to kill we had lunch in the airport. We both ordered a bloody mary and were asked for I.D. – I am 55 yrs and my partner is 43. We do not look anywhere near 21 yrs. The bar tender ‘carded’ everyone saying it was the law. Really? What kind of law is this they have in Colorado. He was carding guys who were clearly over 60. When I pressed him on this issue he told me we had a choice. Show ID…or not be served. Does this noodle head not realize that we had to show our ID to check in for our flight. We then had to show ID to clear security….and in Toronto where we’d flown in from showed ID to clear U.S. customs and Immigration….and then again at the gate to get on the plane. The bar tender claimed seeing ID was to ensure we were not travelling with out of date documentation. I would think that would be discovered WELL before finding ourselves at his bar…past the check-in, past security….through customs. Curious in Toronto

  2. Amanda R says:

    Dear mister Brian levy, I would like to info you that the ‘employee hates asking for your I.D just as must as you hate showing it, but if they don’t ask you to show. I.D, they risk termination of employment. I believe his job meant much more to him than your opinion of him being a “noodlehead.” I suggest keeping such hateful pointed at the law itself, and not those trying to obey it.

  3. Blake Paulus says:

    From what I am hearing , your ID was obviously readily available for someone to view , since you had to show it so much. Maybe next time the guy can take your order and look you square in the eye and say “ oh you’re definitely plenty old as well as your “ partner” looks old enough to drink” then everyone can hear you complain about how rude they were when they said you look old


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