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Last reviewed September 2014

Resources on Minnesota Issues
Legal Age in Minnesota

This guide is provided as an introduction to legal age laws in Minnesota. There are many other laws relating to age that are not mentioned here. Furthermore, there may be additional Minnesota Statutes, Minnesota Rules, court cases, federal law, or local government ordinances that apply to the subject areas that are mentioned in this guide. The information presented here cannot substitute for competent advice from an attorney.

Getting Started on Legal Age Research

Selected Age Provisions Relating to Youth

The following citations are from the Minnesota Statutes unless otherwise noted.

Prior to 1973, the drinking age was the age of legal adulthood (age of majority), which was 21 (Minnesota Statutes 1971, section 645.45). In 1973, the age of majority was lowered from 21 to 18. This dropped the drinking age to 18 (Laws of Minnesota 1973, chapter 725, effective June 1, 1973). The legal drinking age was raised to 19 in 1976 (Laws of Minnesota 1976, chapter 66, effective September 1, 1976). The drinking age was raised to the current age of 21 in 1986 (Laws of Minnesota 1986, chapter 330). It included a grandfather clause: persons who were 19 years old by September 1, 1986 were treated as 21 year olds for liquor law purposes.



Candidates for public office


Additional information on elections (Minnesota Secretary of State)

Emancipation of a Minor

Emancipation means that a minor has the same legal rights and obligations as an 18-year-old adult. The Minnesota Statutes do not provide either the grounds or a procedure for emancipation. Minnesota case law has established that a minor can be emancipated by a legal marriage or by parental consent. For additional information see, Youth and the Law: A Guide for Legislators, p. 48-49.



Fishing and Hunting



Additional information on Minnesota's fishing and hunting laws


Additional information on Minnesota's gambling laws

Health Care

  • Consent for self when living apart from parents and managing financial affairs: 144.341
  • Marriage or giving birth, consent for health service for self or child: 144.342
  • Pregnancy, venereal disease, alcohol or drug abuse, abortion: 144.343
  • Emergency treatment: 144.344
  • For additional information see, Minors' Consent for Health Care, by the Minnesota House Research Department.

Legal Age

Minnesota Statutes 645.451 provides general definitions of the terms minor, adult, minority, majority, legal age, and full age.



Motor Vehicles (Licenses, Operation, & Registration)

On-Road & Farm Vehicles

Off-Road & Recreational

Additional information on Minnesota motor vehicle laws

Sexual Conduct (Criminal)

Tattoos (Body Art)


Tobacco Products


Significant Articles

Greenblatt, Alan. "What is the Age of Responsibility? From Sex to Driving to Juvenile Justice to Drinking, State and Local Laws Send Young People Mixed Messages About Their Own maturity. Is There a Better Way? " Governing, October 2009, p. 24-31.

Additional Library Resources

For historical information, check the following codes in the Legislative Library's newspaper clipping files and the vertical files:
A9 (Age-Legal), A9.2 (Age-Legal-Liquor), A10 (Age & Employment), E44.18 (Employment-Youth), M124.2 (Motor Vehicle Drivers-Age)

Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, 645 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155