Drinking age in Washington State
The National Minimum Drinking Age Act really changed the game as far as the public purchase and possession age in the nation. It was then that the drinking age really changed for good. Before that, each of the 50 states had set their own drinking age. Other than that, Prohibition was the only time in the nation’s history that alcohol had been universally banned in some way. In fact, with the passage of the 26th Amendment, it looked like the drinking age might hover around at 18 forever. However, the drunk driving fatalities really got to people, and there was enough of an outcry that the federal government tried to curb them, and one of their laws aimed at them was the National Minimum Drinking Age Act.
What they believed was that if the drinking age was raised significantly, that it would it stop the number of immature drivers who were out on the road getting drunk and getting into fatal crashes. That’s the reason that the law only addresses the public purchase and possession of alcohol.
The drinking law doesn’t talk about the age for alcohol consumption. It only addresses the public possession and purchase of alcohol. The law is targeted at drunk driving fatalities, primarily. One of the ironic twists in the law is that states would lose 10% of their federal highway construction funds if they didn’t comply with the law and mandatorily raise their legal drinking age to 21. All of the states complied, and even though there was a national outcry, the other outcry on the other side that wanted to keep alcohol out of the hands of people under the age of 21 was stronger. So, even though the new age conflicted with the age of majority, the bill was still signed into law.
The drinking age in Washington has been the age of majority since 1877. It was raised to 21 after the repeal of Prohibition. It remained at 21 even after the passage of the 26th Amendment. It was steady at 21 after the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. It has remained at 21 ever since. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act did a lot to affect states’ drinking laws, but Washington already had a legal drinking age of 21 long before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. Let’s take a look at some of the exceptions of the legal drinking age in Washington. Each state is free to set their own exceptions to the 21-year-old legal drinking age. Washington is no different. Washington allows drinking on private, non alcohol-selling premises with a parent’s consent. It also allows drinking for religious purposes and medical purposes. Washington is definitely not draconian in their exceptions to the underage drinking question. They allow drinking for many reasons, even when a person is under the legal drinking age. That is different than many other states which don’t allow drinking for any reason if the person is under the age of 21, or else they only allow it for religious purposes.