Throwback Thursday: 1978, When The Drinking Age Went Up To 19
From 1972 until 1978, Michiganders could start drinking at age 18. It was a bad idea.
Michigan Went Nearly A Hundred Years With No Drinking Age At All
From its inception as a state in 1837 until 1919, Michigan had no legal drinking age, although most bars kept a tight lid on younger people drinking by arbitrarily enforcing a drinking age of anywhere between 19 and 22.
The first drinking age came about as a fallout from Prohibition, which was the banning of ALL alcohol in 1919 with the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.
When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, most states, including Michigan, instituted a drinking age of 21, which was generally considered the beginning of adulthood. However, 18 to 21 year olds could still drink beer. That changed in 1937 when a law established the drinking age for all alcohol at 21.
But with the Vietnam War making men eligible for the military draft at the age of 18, a national law was passed in 1971 allowing states to lower the drinking age to 18, with the logic being, if you can fight for the country, you should also be able to hoist a drink or two or three or 12.
So in August of 1971, the Michigan Legislature adopted Public Act No. 79 which lowered the age of majority in Michigan to 18. As of January 1, 1972, the legal minimum drinking age in Michigan for all types of alcoholic beverages became 18 years of age.
But bringing the drinking age down to where high school kids could access alcohol fairly easily through older classmates, it didn't work out well, and in 1978, Proposal D was put on to the November ballot to raise the drinking age back to 21. It passed by a 57-43 percent margin.
First The Drinking Age Went To 19, Then Quickly To 21
Here's where it gets a little weird. Before Proposal D passed, the State House and Senate had passed a law raising the drinking age to 19. That law took effect on December 3.
19 days later, the drinking age went to 21 when Proposal D took effect, making for a weird month for young adults like myself.
I turned 20 on December 11, so I had to wait 354 days to drink again.
I wish I could tell you it hampered me from getting alcohol, but I can honestly tell you that most stores in Mount Pleasant, where I was going to college at CMU, rarely carded me throughout my "prohibition" year.
LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving