What Can You Legally Do When You Turn 18?

In most states, 18 is the "age of majority," and reaching it entitles individuals to do nearly anything that an adult is allowed to do, including voting, serving in the military, getting married and entering into legal contracts. At age 18, individuals can legally make choices about their own lives, since they are considered adults.

While 18 is the legal age of majority in most states, the age of majority in Alabama, Colorado, Indiana and Nebraska is 19. In the District of Columbia, Mississippi and New York, the age of majority is not attained until age 21. However, some states recognize emancipation of minors before reaching the majority age, and some recognize an older majority age when the individual in question is still attending school.

Although 18 is the majority age for making legal decisions in most states, no one under the age of 21 can purchase alcoholic beverages in the United States. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 withholds revenue from any state that allows persons under age 21 to purchase alcoholic beverages. However, many states allow young adults under 21 but over the age of majority to consume alcohol in a private setting; only 15 states and the District of Columbia ban underage alcohol consumption outright.