Last reviewed November 2016
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
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. 54-55.
Fishing and Hunting
Additional information on Minnesota's fishing and hunting laws
- 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.
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
- 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)
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)
For newspaper articles from 2009 to the present, legislators and staff can use the Legislative Library News Archive.