First of all: the national minimum legal drinking age is still
21 years. It's also still the highest in the world and a controversial
topic among the public, politicians, physicians and others.
In general every state has the right to establish own laws -
these are called the MLDA laws. Every state including D.C. has
To be at age 21 or older does not mean that you have the right
to drink everywhere you want to. In the first place the meaning
is that one is allowed to purchase alcohol and i.e. to consume
alcohol in pubs, restaurants etc. - but everybody should
strictly be aware of additional regulations, i.e. don't drink on
streets or in your car. Obey sign which indicate that it is not
allowed to bring or consume alcohol, i.e. at beaches (at least
at many of them).
When traveling check local laws: it might be that you're not
able to buy alcohol on Sundays in some counties or cities. Some
other places allow only to buy alcoholic beverages with less
than 3.2 vol%. These are the so-called "3.2's".
The French Quarter in New Orleans seems to be dedicated to
drinking folks - here you may also enjoy alcoholic beverages in
Sometimes a visitor will notice folks with little brown bags in
public. This is a well-known way of 'hiding' and camouflage
alcoholic beverages. Even when everybody 'knows', you're 'not
really' drinking in public, at least nobody 'will know' what is
inside the bag. Tricky - isn't it? But anyway, don't be misled
and think that you can do this wherever you want to - it's not
allowed, it' s just a way not to provoke and to earn some
Be prepared to be asked for a photo ID when buying or ordering
alcohol - at least when you look young.
Any establishment intending to sell alcohol needs this special
license. It's not cheap for them to obtain it but alcohol
beverages make up a noticeable portion of their earnings. most
restaurants (except or Fast Food Chains) have this license.
If not you cannot take it for granted that you are allowed to
'bring your own' (BYO). BYO exists but is definitely not that
common as it is in England, Australia, New Zealand and other
It not allowed there to sell or drink alcohol. Possession might
Open Container Law
That means that you never should store opened bottles (of course
with alcohol in it) in your car except of the trunk. When within
reach of the passengers it would be a violation of law. Of
course are many officers tolerant - in particular when there's
no alcohol odor streaming out of the car... . Your car is of
course not searched just when you run into a normal traffic
control! But keep the law in mind.
The National Minimum Drinking Age Act (or also called: Uniform Drinking Age
Act) of 1984 (98th Congress) required all states to comply in
order to receive funds for their highway development projects.
This Act demands to raise the minimum age to 21 years in order to
purchase alcohol and to possess Alcohol in public.
In general every state is now in compliance with this Act.
Regarding the legal drinking age there might be several
exceptions - every state regulates them; i.e. it's not unusual that
it is allowed to consume alcohol during religious ceremonies even
when the minimum age of 21 is not reached. Such exceptions are often
made for so-called 'controlled environments' - but what this might
be can't be described here. Please study the MLDA law of the state
This is the abbreviation for Blood Alcohol Concentration.
How much is allowed that depends on the state law.
BAC 0.1 means,
that the amount of alcohol in the blood makes up 1/10 of one
percent; other countries say 1 Promille (i.e. Germany, Italy).
states allow 0.08 BAC, but some raised this to 0.10.
Many states incorporated the Zero Tolerance Rule, which means that a
driver under age 21 is not allowed to have any measurable alcohol in