What’s New After 18


Sharon Sun

At 18, there’s a lot more you’re free to do.

Sharon Sun

Happy birthday! Turning 18 is a big step forward in life. For some, it also preludes an entrance to college, and the first moment where many begin to “leave the nest” from home. Let’s take a look at what’s new after turning 18.

One is legally considered an adult at 18 years of age, so start making good choices on your birthday – 18-year-olds are legally tried as adults, not minors. This is important because court punishments imposed on adults are often more severe than the court sentencing guidelines for minors. While perhaps not the most positive birthday news, it’s important to know that 18 years of age is when the government legally considers you mentally and physically to be an adult.

But turning 18 also means you have the power to influence the law. 18 is the minimum legal age for American citizens to vote, thanks to the 26th Amendment ratified in 1971. The power of the vote holds a lot of power in American democracy; you’ll have the chance to chip in your vote for local Yorba Linda leaders and for the federal representatives as well.

Head to your local grocery store or gas station and try your luck at the lottery –  at 18 years of age, you are finally allowed to purchase a lottery ticket. As a small gift or for your own enjoyment, these scratchers offer a small hand to a huge pot, but be sure to exercise caution not to buy too much.

You’ll also be able to get body piercings (ear piercings included!) and tattoos at 18 without the need for parental permission. This is a boon for high schools interested in body art and creative expression; however, be sure to understand the careful and extensive aftercare involved in body piercings and tattoos.

18-year-olds are also able to fully enter the workforce by legally working full-time. Full-time in California is typically classified as working at least 40 hours a week – anything less is usually considered to be part-time work. Although not barred from working entirely, due to child labor laws, anyone under the age of 18 may not work full time. 

Elise Stiefel (12) works at Chipotle. “I’m still 17, so my shifts can only be three and a half hours max,” she says. “I appreciate working there, though. I like my coworkers and I get good benefits, like free food and some of my college tuition paid off. When I head to college in New York, I’ll most likely keep working at a Chipotle near my school.”

18 years old signals the approach of new responsibilities and new freedoms, but one thing’s for sure – it’s the start of a new chapter in the book of life.