Last reviewed November 2018
Minnesota Issues Resource Guides
Legal Age in Minnesota
This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.
Getting Started on Legal Age Research
- Index: The Minnesota Statutes link directly to statutes that deal with AGE. Minnesota Statutes, section 645.451 provides general definitions for the terms minor, adult, minority, majority, legal age, and full age.
- Publication: Youth and the Law: A Guide for Legislators, by the Minnesota Legislature's House Research Department.
- Article: "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? " by Alan Greenblatt. Governing, October 2009, p. 24-31.
Selected Age Provisions Relating to Youth
The following citations are from the Minnesota Statutes unless otherwise noted.
Adult Prosecution (Juvenile Transfer to Criminal Court)
Cigarettes (Including Electronic Cigarettes)
- Persons under 21: 340A.503
- Misdemeanors: 340A.703
- Petty offenders: 260B.235
- Underage drinking and driving (Not a Drop Law): 169A.33
- Confections containing alcohol: 31.76
- History: 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
Emancipation of a Minor
- Background: 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. 54-55.
Fishing and Hunting
- 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
- Additional information: Minors' Consent for Health Care -- Minnesota House Research Department
Motor Vehicles (Licenses, Operation, & Registration)
On-Road & Farm Vehicles
- Auto insurance for minors: 65B.136
- Drivers license: 171.04
- Provisional license: 171.055
- Instructional permit: 171.05
- Ownership, registration by person under age 18: 168.101
- Motorcycle, motor scooter, motor bike, motorized bicycle: 169.974; 169.223
- Seat belts: 169.685 (passenger restraint system for children); 169.686 (seat belt requirements)
- Restricted license for farm work: 171.041
Off-Road & Recreational
Additional information on Minnesota motor vehicle laws
Sexual Conduct (Criminal)
Tattoos (Body Art)
- Age limitations: 609.685
- City ordinances: As of mid-November 2018, 16 Minnesota cities (Roseville, Richfield, Minneapolis, St. Peter, Shoreview, Falcon Heights, North Mankato, Bloomington, Plymouth, St. Louis Park, Edina, Minnetonka, Excelsior, Lauderdale, Hermantown and Brooklyn Center) have raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Seven Minnesota cities restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores: Duluth, Falcon Heights, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Shoreview, Saint Louis Park, and Robbinsdale.
Three other cities, Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth, have restricted menthol.
- One county, Otter Tail in northwestern Minnesota, has also raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21.
- Additional information: Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes -- Minnesota House Research Department