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Drinking age in Wisconsin

Most teenagers are unaware that the legal age to drink in most places in America was 18. That only makes sense because the age of majority was lowered to 18 with the 26th Amendment to the Constitution. The legal minimum age was lowered in about 30 states to 18 in a roughly ten year period. However, that all changed in the late 1970s and 1980s with the minimum drinking ages being raised to 21 to ostensibly cut underage drinking. Some people think of it as a form of age discrimination because the age of majority is 18, and the legal age to drink should be lowered to 18 too. Either the age of majority should be raised to 21, or the legal age to drink should be lowered to 18. There should be the same age to do all adult things, like voting and registering for the draft.

Also, the manner in which the federal government accomplished the legal age to drink being lowered was seen as a kind of sidestep of the 10th Amendment. The federal government said they would withhold 10% of highway construction funds if the states didn’t raise their drinking age to 21. All of the states complied, but the last two holdouts were Wyoming and South Dakota. The specific law which did this was the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. It made states take their ages higher for the public possession and purchase of alcohol. By the mid-point of 1988, all 50 states had raised their drinking age to 21, along with the District of Columbia, but the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico still had it at 18. However, Guam changed their drinking age to 21 in 2010.

There are a lot of critics of the law because the legal age to drink is 18 in most countries, and the U.S. kind of stands out as a country with a higher-than-normal drinking age.

Wisconsin has a pretty unusual history as far as minimum drinking ages. From 1839-1866, the age was 18 for wine and liquor, and there was no age for beer. The attitude toward beer used to be a lot different in this country. People considered it very minor. After 1866, it was 21 for all. Then, it was 18 for beer, 21 for wine and spirits, but 21 in some municipalities for all. It was raised to 21 in 1963. It was 18 for beer sales on premises. It was lowered to 18 in 1972. It was then raised to 19 in 1984, and it was raised to meet the minimum age for federal standards in 1986. The legal drinking age in Wisconsin is 21 now, but minors can drink in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

Wisconsin allows drinking for religious purposes and medical purposes too. It also allows drinking on alcohol-selling locations with parental permission. Wisconsin had to comply with the federal guidelines on minimum drinking ages, but it was a very liberal state with a drinking age of 18, and then 19, before that happened.




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