When you turn 18, there are many changes that come with it. You have more freedom and independence, but also more responsibilities. As a college student, you may be curious about what rights and privileges you gain once you reach legal adulthood. This blog post will cover those topics and provide answers to common questions young adults might have when turning 18.
I do want to take the time to say that nothing here is explicit legal advice. Always do your own due diligence. Now that you are 18, doing your own due diligence will only get more important as the years go by.
What Does it Mean to Turn 18?
At the age of 18, you are considered a legal adult in the United States. This means that you are responsible for your own actions and decisions, and can no longer rely on your parents or guardians to make decisions for you.
You are also now eligible to vote, serve on a jury, and enlist in the military. It’s important to remember that being a legal adult comes with added responsibility and accountability, but also with newfound freedoms and opportunities.
So let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first!
Basic Legal Rights and Responsibilities at 18
One of the most significant changes that come with turning 18 is the right to vote. The right to vote is a fundamental aspect of democracy and allows citizens to have a say in the political process.
According to the United States Constitution, every citizen has the right to vote, and once you turn 18, you can register to vote in local, state, and federal elections.
I encourage you to start taking the time to inform yourself about the local politics of your community. This is often where your vote can have the greatest and quickest impact. Take advantage of this.
Another important responsibility that comes with turning 18 is the requirement to serve on a jury. Jury duty is a civic duty and an essential part of the justice system. According to the law, all citizens who are 18 years of age or older and are U.S. citizens must serve on a jury if summoned.
Once you turn 18, you are eligible to enlist in the military. This is a significant responsibility that requires a commitment to serve your country. If you choose to enlist, you will undergo basic training and may be deployed to serve in various locations around the world.
Within the U.S., there is a law requiring men to sign up for the Selective Service once they turn 18 irrespective of their intention to join the military. So be sure to do this if it applies to you. If not, you could risk potential legal action against you.
Learn More: What is the Selective Service?
In most states, you can obtain your driver’s license at the age of 18 which gives you full driving permissions. Having a driver’s license is a significant milestone that provides you with the freedom and independence to travel to work, school, or social activities (more on the social activities later).
At the age of 18, you can enter into legal contracts, including leases, employment contracts, and credit agreements. It’s important to understand the terms of any contract you sign and to seek professional legal advice if you have any questions.
Remember what I said about due diligence? This is where you do it. Don’t overlook its importance.
Initiate a lawsuit
You can legally initiate a lawsuit against someone once you become 18 years old. Of course, this is not something to be taken lightly and should only be done after careful consideration and seeking professional legal advice. Remember always do your due diligence.
Draft A Will
At 18 years old you are recognized as a legal adult. Therefore, you have the ability to draft a will if you see fit. As always it’s important to seek professional legal advice when creating a will, even at a young age.
You Can Change Your Name
If you are not happy with your given birth name, you can legally change it once you turn 18 years old. Note a name change is not always a simple process. However, you can legally pursue this path if you see fit.
Acquire a 10 Year Passport
Another thing that you can legally do at 18 years old is acquire a 10-year passport. A passport is essential to traveling internationally and exploring the world.
Traveling internationally is definitely something to consider as a young adult. It can expand your horizons, offer you new perspectives on your life, and allow you to experience new cultures and traditions firsthand.
Tobacco and Alcohol
While the legal age to purchase tobacco and alcohol varies by state, most states require that you be 18 years old to purchase tobacco products and 21 years old to purchase alcohol.
Once you turn 18, you are legally responsible for your own medical decisions. This means that you have the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment, and medical professionals are required to respect your wishes.
At 18 years old, you can donate blood without the need for parental consent.
Become an Organ Donor
You can legally register to become an organ donor at 18 years old without parental consent.
As a legal adult, you are responsible for your own finances. This includes managing your bank accounts, paying bills, and filing taxes. It’s important to understand your financial responsibilities and to seek advice if you need help managing your finances.
Another aspect of financial responsibility that is now on you is the act of financially educating yourself. Be sure to seek out opportunities and resources to improve your financial literacy – especially those staples topics like budgeting and your credit score.
Submit A Mortgage Application
Once you turn 18 you can legally submit a mortgage application to purchase a home or investment property, assuming you have sufficient income and credit history to qualify for a mortgage.
Apply For Credit Cards
At 18 years old you can apply for credit cards on your own. Simple as that. Well not really. There is a lot to learn about credit cards and how best to use them.
Fun Fact: Did you know that it is illegal for credit card companies to market their products on college campuses? This is based on the Credit CARD Act of 2009, which aims to protect college students from predatory credit card companies.
Read More: Credit Cards 101 For Young Adults
New Living Options and Access at 18
You Can Buy a Car
Once you reach 18 years old, you can legally purchase a car without any assistance from your parents or guardians. You will no longer need a co-signer for your auto loan or any other financial assistance.
However, you may still need a co-signer if you do not have any credit history, or if you have bad credit. It is essential to have a good credit score when buying a car to qualify for a low-interest rate.
Read More: Credit Scores 101 Explained With Visual Aids
You Can Work Full-Time
Once you turn 18, you can work full-time without any restrictions. This means you can work more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week, which can lead to higher pay and better job opportunities.
You Can Book A Hotel Room
You can legally book a hotel room at 18 years old without the need for a parent or guardian.
Note, this is not true for every hotel as some hotels may require guests to be 21 years old to book a room – even rarer 25 years old. Hotels that are adult-only hotels – especially all-inclusive resorts – often require you to be 21 years old due to the all-inclusive drinking environment.
Get a Tattoo
At 18 years old, you can legally get a tattoo without needing parental consent in some states. It is important to note that some states require you to be 21 years old to get a tattoo without parental consent. As always do your own due diligence and confirm the facts.
You can legally get married without parental consent at 18 years old. I can’t say I found a life partner that young, but some people are fortunate to find their significant other early in life. More power to you!
Become a Real Estate Agent
You can legally apply to become a licensed real estate agent once you turn 18 years old. Becoming a real estate agent can be an excellent career path for young adults interested in the housing market and sales.
The process to become a licensed real estate agent varies by state, but it typically involves completing a pre-licensing course, passing a licensing exam, and completing additional education and training requirements.
Go to Bartending School
At 18 years old, you can legally enroll in bartending school to learn how to mix drinks. Bartending school can be a fun and useful experience that can lead to both part-time and full-time opportunities in the hospitality industry. Plus, bartenders often make great tips!
Adopt A Pet
Adopting a pet is another thing you can legally do at 18 years old without the need for parental consent. However, keep in mind that adopting a pet is a significant responsibility that requires time, effort, and a lot of resources.
Also note that adopting a pet can sometimes be a lengthy process, so be prepared to go through the application and screening process.
Get A Costco Card
I don’t know about you, but Costco plays an essential part in my grocery shopping routine. At 18 years old, you can legally apply for your own Costco membership card. This means you can enjoy all the benefits of Costco’s bulk shopping and discounted prices.
Plus, the membership is very affordable. As of this writing, a yearly Costco membership costs $60. It is definitely an affordable option for young adults who want to save money on groceries and household items.
Fun Activities or Entertainment Options at 18
Turning 18 opens up a whole new world of entertainment options and fun activities. Here are some ideas to consider:
Concerts and Music Festivals
Many concerts and music festivals have age restrictions, and turning 18 can give you access to more events and venues.
Casinos and Gambling
While gambling is illegal for minors, once you turn 18, you are legally allowed to enter casinos and gamble in certain states. However, there are still some casinos that you cannot enter until you are 21 years old due to the drinking environment within casinos.
But if you are feeling lucky, you have the freedom to visit a casino and try your hand at card games and slot machines. Just remember to gamble responsibly and within your means.
Nightclubs and Bars
Many nightclubs and bars have age restrictions and turning 18 can give you access to a wider range of nightlife activities.
It’s important to remember that turning 18 does grant you access to these types of activities, however, it is still important to be aware of some of the disadvantages that come with some of the nightlife activities – especially safety in some cases.
Be sure to remain cognizant of your surroundings and the people you spend time with.
Another activity you can legally do at 18 is purchase fireworks in certain states. However, it is important to note that fireworks laws vary by state and often even by city, so be sure to research your local laws before making a purchase.
Remember we always want to do our proper due diligence.
Go to an Amusement Park
Amusement parks can offer a thrilling experience for young adults. You can go on exciting rides and enjoy carnival games and other attractions without needing any type of parental consent.
Take a Road Trip
With your newfound ability to buy a car and drive without any restrictions, you can plan a road trip with friends and explore new places. Just be sure to do some car maintenance before embarking on that cross-country road trip. The last thing you want is a tire to blow out.
Rent A U-Haul
You can legally rent a U-Haul at 18. So, if you need to move out or move somewhere you can use a U-Haul to make it happen. Plus, you can use a U-Haul to complete a cross-country move although it might become expensive based on how U-Haul does their prices.
Go To A Late Night Movie
Many movie theaters have policies that require parental attendance for minors in a theater after 8 pm. Non-chain theaters are more likely to enforce this requirement, however, I have definitely been to a few AMC theaters that had this policy posted.
But I digress, as an 18-year-old, you can legally go see a movie after 8 pm without parental attendance.
Go To a Comedy Club
Many comedy clubs have age restrictions. However, once you turn 18 you can legally enter most comedy clubs without any issues. Now, will the material be to your liking? No idea. But you can only figure that out by attending a few shows and developing your own adult opinion.
You Can Legally Skydive at 18
According to the USPA (United States Parachute Association), a jumper must be at least 18 years of age to skydive. So now that you are 18 you can literally jump from helicopters for fun!
You Can Bet on Horse Races
If you are a fan of horse racing, then good news! You can legally bet on horse races once you turn 18.
Purchase Lottery Tickets
Not sure if this is really a fun activity, but I digress. Once you turn 18, you are legally able to purchase lottery tickets. Who knows you might get lucky and win big!
Turning 18 comes with a lot of new rights and responsibilities. You are now considered an adult and are expected to take charge of your life. It is essential to understand your legal rights and obligations to make informed decisions and avoid any legal issues. At 18, you can vote, purchase tobacco and vape products, serve on a jury, join the military, work full-time, and much more.
However, with these new privileges come responsibilities, such as paying taxes, registering for the selective service, and adhering to the law. It is crucial to educate yourself on these legal matters to make a smooth transition into adulthood.
Additionally, there are several fun activities and entertainment options available for young adults to explore and enjoy their newfound. So enjoy the beginning of adulthood!
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