Yup, you read that headline correctly. Minors can legally drink in Maine and Massachusetts, as well as Rhode Island, Vermont, and Connecticut. New Hampshire is the only state in New England where they can't.

Let me explain.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act (which made the drinking age 21, as we know), was only passed in 1984. However, I recently learned that that national law doesn't necessarily mean someone underage can't drink alcohol. It all depends on certain state-by-state exceptions.

In order for states to receive certain types of federal funding, according to Alcohol.org, each mush adhere to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. However, each state can have exceptions to this law when it comes to minors drinking, and the four main ones are the following:

  • Parent/Guardian Consent
  • Religious Reasons
  • Medical Reasons
  • Culinary Class

As a matter of fact, there are only five states  – including New Hampshire – without a single one of these exceptions, which means underage drinking is prohibited no matter what. The other four are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, and West Virginia.

For the most part, the family exception rule is why teens are drinking either at home, at restaurants, or at weddings, and even those vary depending on the state.

However, according to the Drinking Age Pro Con website, not all states have the family exception law. According to the Vine Pair website, the following states allow teens to drink, but the family exception law isn't one of the reasons. Instead, it's for medical, religious, or culinary education reasons.

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Washington, D.C.

While Rhode Island and Vermont don't have the family exception law, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut do.

As with all laws, things can change state by state with new or altered laws, so always double-check.

Click here to learn more about what each exception law means per state.

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