Dear 100 Hour Board,
I need help settling a disagreement. I was talking to someone the other day who insisted that underage drinking by itself isn't illegal. He said it's illegal for someone under 21 to purchase alcohol or for someone to give alcohol to or buy alcohol for someone under 21, but a person who is under 21 can't get in legal trouble for drinking alcohol alone. That just didn't sound right to me. I've always thought underage drinking in and of itself was definitely illegal... right? So, which one of us is correct?
First I checked the 21st amendment like a nerd (that's the one that ended prohibition), and it doesn't say anything about the legal drinking age, just that it's legal to drink alcohol again, and that states can still make their own individual liquor laws. So maybe that's what your friend was thinking of? The 21st amendment was passed in 1933, and in the decades following each state made their own laws regarding the minimum drinking age and how minors and alcohol would be allowed to interact. But then in 1984 a national minimum legal drinking age was passed, stating that it's illegal to drink alcohol before you're 21. That's still the current law in the US, so you're definitely right. It's not only illegal for someone under age 21 to purchase alcohol, but also to drink it. And if you live in Utah there's a plethora of even more restrictive alcohol laws!