Oh, you thought every state in the U.S. doesn't allow underage drinking?

All but only five states have some sort of exception that allows drinking alcohol under the age of 21. Yes, you can actually drink underage in 45 states under the right circumstances.

States Where Family Members Can Give Alcohol To Minors

A law was passed in 1984 to establish a minimum legal drinking age of 21. While that may seem like a fairly cut and dry approach, there are actually several exceptions at the state level that allow minors to possess and/or consume alcohol.

For instance, American Addiction Centers's resource website Alcohol.org lists 31 states allow family members to furnish a minor with alcohol:

  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Nevada
  • Hawaii
  • Alaska
  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • South Dakota
  • Missouri
  • Arkansas
  • Texas
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Wisconsin
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
  • Georgia
  • South Caroline
  • Virginia
  • Maryland
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Connecticut
  • Massachusettes
  • Maine

It is important to note, however, that at least 12 of the states on the list have location restrictions that keep minors from drinking anywhere they want as long as they're with a parent. These states mostly ask that those under 21 drink at home with a parent.

In addition to exemptions for drinking with parents, some other states allow underage drinking for such things as religious, educational or governmental/law enforcement purposes.

Alcohol.org says educational exemptions would instances such as a cooking school student under the age of 21 who tastes alcohol as part of food prep. Governmental exemptions include undercover alcohol possession enforcement by local police departments.

States That Absolutely Do Not Allow Underage Drinking

Even with all of the exceptions that allow for drinking under the age of 21, there are still five states that do not allow underage alcohol consumption under any circumstance.

ProCon.org did a roundup of every state's exceptions to the minimum legal drinking age requirement. Those listed with no exceptions include:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Idaho
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia

While the states on this list are cracking down on underage drinking, at least two of them are fairly lax when it comes to passengers in vehicles having open containers of alcohol. Both Alaska and West Virginia are among the 10 states that allow passengers in vehicles to have open containers. 

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Stacker used the Federal Highway Administration's 2020 Highway Statistics report to rank states by the fatalities per billion miles traveled. 

Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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