Seven States Prohibit Underage Drinking

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

Seven states and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit, the consumption of alcoholic beverages by persons under the age of 21 with no exceptions. These prohibition states are:

  1. Alabama
  2. Idaho
  3. Indiana
  4. Kansas
  5. North Carolina
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. West Virginia

Twenty-one states have no laws prohibiting those under 21 from drinking alcohol. 1 Contrary to popular belief, the National Underage Drinking Act of 1984 does not call for states to enact laws against underage drinking, but only against the purchase and possession of alcoholic beverages. The states with no age prohibition are:

  1. California
  2. Connecticut
  3. Florida
  4. Georgia
  5. Hawaii
  6. Iowa
  7. Kentucky
  8. Maryland
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Mississippi
  11. Missouri
  12. Nevada
  13. New Hampshire
  14. New Mexico
  15. New York
  16. Oklahoma
  17. Rhode Island
  18. South Carolina
  19. Virginia
  20. Wyoming

These states may charge persons who have consumed alcohol with alcohol possession or other violations in order to, in essence, enforce a non-existing law.

All other states have laws prohibiting underage consumption but provide exceptions. Common exceptions to the age prohibition include drinking in the presence of, or with the consent of, one’s parent or guardian; drinking with one’s spouse; drinking in one’s parent’s or guardian’s home; drinking in one’s own home; drinking in any other private location; or drinking for religious, educational or medical purposes.

The 22 states with partial age prohibition are

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. Arizona
  4. Colorado
  5. Delaware
  6. llinois
  7. Louisiana
  8. Maine
  9. Michigan
  10. Minnesota
  11. Montana
  12. Nebraska
  13. New Jersey
  14. North Dakota
  15. Ohio
  16. Oregon
  17. South Dakota
  18. Tennessee
  19. Texas
  20. Utah
  21. Vermont
  22. Washington
  23. Wisconsin

This website does not provide legal opinion or advice and none should be inferred. Laws and their interpretation change over time. Always seek advice from a qualified attorney or other professional.


  • 1. Some of these states outlaw consumption by minors on licensed premises such as bars. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism categorizes them as having no laws prohibiting alcohol consumption by those under age 21.