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Wayback Wednesday: When "turning 21" became a thing

Anyone who has ever imbibed an alcoholic beverage can draw a line between the time they did it illegally and legally for the first time. Since July 17, 1984 that line in the sand has been at age 21.

That's when Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 requiring states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 or lose federal money for roads.

Some states had already been moving in that direction. Rhode Island upped its age from 19, then to 20, and finally 21 before Congress acted. Arizona had made its legal age 21 after prohibition but lowered it to 19 in the early 1970s. 

Oklahoma raised it from 18 to 21 in 1983.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›