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What You Can Legally Do When You're 18

Updated on September 12, 2017
Fritz Isaacs profile image

Fritz worked in a law office for six years and has legally been considered an adult for quite some time now.

Vote: On July 1st, 1971, the 26th Amendment was added to the United States Constitution giving all Americans the right to vote when they are 18 years of age. Before the 26th Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, some States enforced a voting age of 21.

Work full-time without restrictions: Although it’s possible for someone under the age of 18 to work a full-time job, there are some restrictions based on age. When an employee turns 18, he/she is no longer required to follow the same set of laws that pertain to minors. Turning 18 allows an employee to not be limited in the number of hours they work and also allows them to pursue different types of employment. For example, an employee has to be 18 to operate a forklift or work in meatpacking. In some states, an employee may serve alcohol at work when they turn 18 even though they cannot consume it until they are 21.

Purchase and use tobacco products: I am not encouraging anyone to buy or use tobacco products, I am just making the point that you are allowed to. Items you are now legally able to purchase include cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers, pipes and any type of tobacco related accessory. Remember, never purchase tobacco products for minors. This is illegal and will result in an arrest if you are caught!

Engage in sexual activities with someone 18 or over: A federal law was enacted that states a person 18 years of age can legally consent to sexual activities with another person that is 18 years of age or older. The age of consent varies from state to state and could be younger or older depending on the laws of your state.

Start a checking or savings account: Now that you are 18, you can legally start your own checking or savings account complete with an ATM card without your parent's permission. Part of becoming an adult is learning how to be a responsible money manager. What better way to do this than to have your own bank account without the interference of your parents? You may even want to consider investing in a 401k for a more secure retirement in the future. It’s your money and you have earned it. You decide how to spend or save it.

Apply for a loan: You have to be 18 to apply for most loans. This will come in handy if you need to borrow money to buy a car or run into some unexpected expenses. Always make sure you apply for loans with a reasonable rate and make your payments on time. You don’t want to be making payments on a loan for the rest of your life!

Get a credit card: Credit Cards are a good idea if you use them wisely. Do not use credit cards for frivolous things like fancy clothes and entertainment. Only use your credit card for emergencies and make sure to pay more than the minimum payment to lessen your debt. Credit card debt adds up fast so don’t let this happen to you. Start building your credit at 18 and make sure you keep a good credit score. Credit scores affect the amount of interest a person pays on a home, car and many other loans.

Get married: In most states, two consenting adults, aged 18 or older may get married without parental consent. Nebraska sets the age at 19 for a couple to get married without parental consent and for Mississippi is it 21. There are a few exceptions. Some states allow pregnant teens or teens that already have children to get married without parental consent. Of course, please check your local laws if you are thinking about getting married.

Join the Selective Service: This one only applies to males that have reached the age of 18. Every male United States citizen is required by law to enroll in the Selective Service. You must register with the Selective Service no more than 30 days after you turn 18, otherwise, you may face legal consequences such as a $250,00 fine and/or 5 years in prison. On top of legal issues for failure to sign up, it can also affect employment. I personally had a job where I was not even considered a candidate unless I had enrolled in the Selective Service. Don’t listen to what your parents when they tell you “there is no draft” because there is! Signing up for the Selective Service ensures the United States has a fresh crop of young men to fight for their country against their will.

Donate blood: A person may become a blood donor without their parent's consent when they turn 18 years old. This is a great way to give back to your community and anyone outside of it if they are in need, not to mention it’s also a great way to earn some extra cash. Blood banks are often low on supplies and constantly need donors, especially if you have a rare blood type.

Change your name: As an adult, you are now legally able to change your name without your parent's consent. There are many reasons why a person may want to change their name. A person could have been given the same name as an infamous dictator or a serial killer and is not fond of the stigma that comes with it. Maybe a person would like to change their name to better market themselves as a musician or an actor. Maybe someone just does not like their name and wants a change. For whatever reason you may want to change your name, you can now more easily do so.

Buy lottery tickets: Feeling lucky? Now that you are 18 you can legally buy lottery tickets in most states. Unfortunately, depending on the state you reside in, you may have to wait until the age of 19 or 21 in order to buy a lottery ticket. I am not encouraging gambling, I am just stating that if you would like to try your chances at becoming a millionaire at the age of 18 this may be the easiest way.

Buy a pornographic magazine, go to a strip club or watch an x-rated movie:No more stealing Mom and Dad’s pornographic magazines! You are now allowed to go to your local supermarket and purchase these magazines right off the shelf. Going to s strip club is another benefit of turning 18. Instead of using your older brother or sister’s identification card to sneak into the club, you can now waltz right in without paranoia and show the bouncer your state issued ID that grants you access. On top of last two benefits of turning 18, you are now legally allowed to view and purchase x-rated movies. No more trading poor quality hand-me-down VHS between your buddies, you may now walk into your local adult store and purchase the latest titles.

© 2017 Fritz Isaacs


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