Drinking age in West Virginia
The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was the last word on the legal public purchase and possession age in the nation. Never since Prohibition had there been such a big law connected to the public purchase and possession of alcohol. While Prohibition made it illegal completely for everyone, this law just made it the law of the land that you would not be allowed to buy alcohol unless you were over the age of 21.
Now, what this law did not do, is stipulate what the drinking age was for people in the different states. All the 50 states set their own exceptions to the 21-years-old age restriction, and there are many states that have laws allowing it for certain occasions, or under circumstances. For example, if someone is with a parent who approves of alcohol consumption, then alcohol consumption is allowable. Or, if someone is drinking for religious purposes, then it is fine. However, that law does not apply in all 50 states. Each state has different rules.
A lot of people weren’t very happy about how the law was passed either. The law was passed in such a way that it was, in a way, as if the states were coerced into setting their minimum drinking age limits at 21 years of age. If they did not set their drinking age at 21 years old, then they would lose 10% of their federal highway construction funds. Many of the states just couldn’t say no to that. All the states ended up complying. It was difficult for the states to deal with that sort of treatment, but all of the states eventually complied with it. There were people in each state that were mad that the new public purchase and possession age was so much higher than the age of majority. If people could vote and go to war, they argued, then why couldn’t they purchase alcohol? It was a difficult time in national politics.
There was no known drinking age in West Virginia prior to Prohibition passing. After Prohibition was repealed, the legal drinking age was changed to 18 for beer and wine, and it was changed to 21 for liquor. It was lowered to 18 for all individuals in 1972. It was raised to 19 in 1983. It was raised to 21 for non-residents. It was raised to 21 in 1986. In West Virginia, the underage consumption of alcohol is forbidden under all circumstances with no exceptions. It is one of the few states that takes such a draconian approach to the law. However, the law doesn’t forbid someone from giving a minor alcohol if the minor is a blood relative, but the minor can’t drink the alcohol. Not all states are as harsh as West Virginia though. Not all of them have such harsh restrictions on underage drinking. Some of them allow drinking for all sorts of purposes, including just whenever a parent gives their consent.