State History of MLDA 21, 1933-present


The repeal of prohibition by the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933 allowed each state to set its own alcohol consumption laws. At that time, most states established the minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) for alcohol at 21 years of age. Following the July 1, 1971 passage of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the legal voting age from 21 to 18 years of age, 30 US states lowered their MLDA to 18, 19, or 20; by 1982, only 14 states still had an MLDA of 21.

The enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 (56 KB) prompted states to raise their legal age for purchase or public possession of alcohol to 21 or risk losing millions in federal highway funds. By 1988, all 50 states had raised their MLDA to 21.

California (1933) and Oregon (1933) have the nation's oldest MLDA 21 laws while South Dakota (Apr. 1, 1988) and Wyoming (July 1, 1988) have the most recent MLDA 21 laws.

The charts below show the date on which the MLDA 21 laws became effective in each state.

Alphabetical Order
State Last Date of MLDA 21
Alabama Oct. 1, 1985
Alaska Nov. 1, 1984
Arizona Jan. 1, 1985
Arkansas 1935
California 1933
Colorado July 1, 1987
Connecticut Sep. 1, 1985
Delaware Jan. 1, 1984
Florida July 1, 1985
Georgia Sep. 30, 1986
Hawaii Oct. 1, 1986
Idaho Apr. 10, 1987
Illinois Jan. 1, 1980
Indiana 1934
Iowa Sep. 1, 1986
Kansas July 1, 1985
Kentucky 1938
Louisiana Mar. 15, 1987
Maine July 1, 1985
Maryland July 1, 1982
Massachusetts June 1, 1985
Michigan Dec. 21, 1978
Minnesota Sep. 1, 1986
Mississippi Oct. 1, 1986
Missouri 1945
Montana Apr. 1, 1987
Nebraska Jan. 1, 1985
Nevada 1935
New Hampshire June 1, 1985
New Jersey Jan. 1, 1983
New Mexico 1934
New York Dec. 1, 1985
North Carolina Sep. 1, 1986
North Dakota 1936
Ohio July 31, 1987
Oklahoma Nov. 1, 1985
Oregon 1933
Pennsylvania 1935
Rhode Island July 1, 1984
South Carolina Sep. 14, 1986
South Dakota Apr. 1, 1988
Tennessee Aug. 1, 1984
Texas Sep. 1, 1986
Utah 1935
Vermont July 1, 1986
Virginia July 1, 1985
Washington 1934
West Virginia July 1, 1986
Wisconsin Sep. 1, 1986
Wyoming July 1, 1988
Date Order (newest to oldest)
State Last Date of MLDA 21
Wyoming July 1, 1988
South Dakota Apr. 1, 1988
Ohio July 31, 1987
Colorado July 1, 1987
Idaho Apr. 10, 1987
Montana Apr. 1, 1987
Louisiana Mar. 15, 1987
Hawaii Oct. 1, 1986
Mississippi Oct. 1, 1986
Georgia Sep. 30, 1986
South Carolina Sep. 14, 1986
Iowa Sep. 1, 1986
Minnesota Sep. 1, 1986
North Carolina Sep. 1, 1986
Texas Sep. 1, 1986
Wisconsin Sep. 1, 1986
Vermont July 1, 1986
West Virginia July 1, 1986
New York Dec. 1, 1985
Oklahoma Nov. 1, 1985
Alabama Oct. 1, 1985
Connecticut Sep. 1, 1985
Florida July 1, 1985
Kansas July 1, 1985
Maine July 1, 1985
Virginia July 1, 1985
Massachusetts June 1, 1985
New Hampshire June 1, 1985
Arizona Jan. 1, 1985
Nebraska Jan. 1, 1985
Alaska Nov. 1, 1984
Tennessee Aug. 1, 1984
Rhode Island July 1, 1984
Delaware Jan. 1, 1984
New Jersey Jan. 1, 1983
Maryland July 1, 1982
Illinois Jan. 1, 1980
Michigan Dec. 21, 1978
Missouri 1945
Kentucky 1938
North Dakota 1936
Arkansas 1935
Pennsylvania 1935
Nevada 1935
Utah 1935
Indiana 1934
New Mexico 1934
Washington 1934
California 1933
Oregon 1933


Sources:

1. American Medical Association (AMA), "Minimum Legal Drinking Age," www.ama-assn.org (accessed Oct. 27, 2011)
2. Preusser Research Group, "Determine Why There Are Fewer Young Alcohol-Impaired Drivers," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website, Sep. 2001