Last updated on: 3/10/2016 | Author: ProCon.org

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
StateLast Date of MLDA 21
AlabamaOct. 1, 1985
AlaskaNov. 1, 1984
ArizonaJan. 1, 1985
Arkansas1935
California1933
ColoradoJuly 1, 1987
ConnecticutSep. 1, 1985
DelawareJan. 1, 1984
FloridaJuly 1, 1985
GeorgiaSep. 30, 1986
HawaiiOct. 1, 1986
IdahoApr. 10, 1987
IllinoisJan. 1, 1980
Indiana1934
IowaSep. 1, 1986
KansasJuly 1, 1985
Kentucky1938
LouisianaMar. 15, 1987
MaineJuly 1, 1985
MarylandJuly 1, 1982
MassachusettsJune 1, 1985
MichiganDec. 21, 1978
MinnesotaSep. 1, 1986
MississippiOct. 1, 1986
Missouri1945
MontanaApr. 1, 1987
NebraskaJan. 1, 1985
Nevada1935
New HampshireJune 1, 1985
New JerseyJan. 1, 1983
New Mexico1934
New YorkDec. 1, 1985
North CarolinaSep. 1, 1986
North Dakota1936
OhioJuly 31, 1987
OklahomaNov. 1, 1985
Oregon1933
Pennsylvania1935
Rhode IslandJuly 1, 1984
South CarolinaSep. 14, 1986
South DakotaApr. 1, 1988
TennesseeAug. 1, 1984
TexasSep. 1, 1986
Utah1935
VermontJuly 1, 1986
VirginiaJuly 1, 1985
Washington1934
West VirginiaJuly 1, 1986
WisconsinSep. 1, 1986
WyomingJuly 1, 1988
Date Order (newest to oldest)
StateLast Date of MLDA 21
WyomingJuly 1, 1988
South DakotaApr. 1, 1988
OhioJuly 31, 1987
ColoradoJuly 1, 1987
IdahoApr. 10, 1987
MontanaApr. 1, 1987
LouisianaMar. 15, 1987
HawaiiOct. 1, 1986
MississippiOct. 1, 1986
GeorgiaSep. 30, 1986
South CarolinaSep. 14, 1986
IowaSep. 1, 1986
MinnesotaSep. 1, 1986
North CarolinaSep. 1, 1986
TexasSep. 1, 1986
WisconsinSep. 1, 1986
VermontJuly 1, 1986
West VirginiaJuly 1, 1986
New YorkDec. 1, 1985
OklahomaNov. 1, 1985
AlabamaOct. 1, 1985
ConnecticutSep. 1, 1985
FloridaJuly 1, 1985
KansasJuly 1, 1985
MaineJuly 1, 1985
VirginiaJuly 1, 1985
MassachusettsJune 1, 1985
New HampshireJune 1, 1985
ArizonaJan. 1, 1985
NebraskaJan. 1, 1985
AlaskaNov. 1, 1984
TennesseeAug. 1, 1984
Rhode IslandJuly 1, 1984
DelawareJan. 1, 1984
New JerseyJan. 1, 1983
MarylandJuly 1, 1982
IllinoisJan. 1, 1980
MichiganDec. 21, 1978
Missouri1945
Kentucky1938
North Dakota1936
Arkansas1935
Pennsylvania1935
Nevada1935
Utah1935
Indiana1934
New Mexico1934
Washington1934
California1933
Oregon1933

 


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