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The legal drinking age is the age at which a person can legally consume or purchase alcoholic beverages. These laws cover a wide range of issues and behaviors, addressing when and where alcohol can be consumed. The minimum age alcohol can be legally consumed can be different from the age when it can be purchased in some countries. These laws vary among different countries and many laws have exemptions or special circumstances. Most laws apply only to drinking alcohol in public places, with alcohol consumption in the home being mostly unregulated (an exception being the UK, which has a minimum legal age of five for supervised consumption in private places). Some countries also have different age limits for different types of alcoholic drinks.
Some Islamic nations prohibit Muslims, or both Muslims and non-Muslims, from drinking alcohol at any age, due to the Qura'an forbidding the consumption of wine. In other countries, it is not illegal for minors to drink alcohol, but the alcohol can be seized without compensation. In some cases, it is illegal to sell or give alcohol to minors. The following list indicates the age of the person for whom it is legal to consume and purchase alcohol.
Kazakhstan, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Paraguay, Solomon Islands, India (certain states), the United States (except U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico), Yemen (Aden and Sana'a), Japan, Iceland, Canada (certain Provinces and Territories), and South Korea have the highest set drinking ages, however some of these countries do not have off-premises drinking limits. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Georgia, Luxembourg, Moldova, Morocco, and Western Sahara have the lowest set drinking ages.
Federal law explicitly provides for religious exceptions. As of 2005, thirty-one states have family member or location exceptions to their underage possession laws. However, non-alcoholic beer in many (but not all) states, such as Idaho, Texas, and Maryland, is considered legal for those under the age of twenty-one.
By a judge's ruling, South Carolina appears to allow the possession and consumption of alcohol by adults eighteen to twenty years of age, but a circuit court judge has said otherwise.
The states of Washington and Wisconsin allows the consumption of alcohol in the presence of parents.
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