what can you do at 18 in the us

Turning 18 in the US: Rights & Opportunities

Turning 18 is a significant milestone in the United States. It marks the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and with it comes a whole new set of rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. As an 18-year-old, you gain certain legal rights that were previously restricted, opening doors to new experiences and activities.

So, what can you do at 18 in the US? Let’s explore the privileges that come with reaching the age of majority.

Key Takeaways:

  • Turning 18 grants you numerous rights and opportunities in the US.
  • Activities such as voting, joining the military, and working full-time become available to you at this age.
  • You can register to become an organ donor and donate blood to help others in need.
  • While you can legally purchase and use tobacco products in some states, certain driving restrictions for minors no longer apply to you.
  • Embrace the responsibilities and privileges that come with adulthood as you navigate this new chapter of your life.


voting at 18

One of the significant rights and responsibilities that come with turning 18 in the United States is the right to vote. The 26th amendment to the Constitution, enacted on July 1, 1971, established the legal voting age for Americans as 18. Once you reach this age and register to vote, you can participate in both national and local elections, allowing your voice to be heard in the democratic process.

Voting is a fundamental pillar of a democratic society, providing citizens with the power to elect leaders and shape the direction of their country. By exercising your right to vote, you have the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to the decision-making processes that impact your community, state, and nation as a whole.

Registering to vote is a crucial step in the process. Voter registration ensures that you appear on the voter rolls and are eligible to cast your ballot during elections. Each state in the US has its own voter registration requirements and processes, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the rules in your specific state.

There are various ways to register to vote, depending on your state’s regulations. These may include online registration, mail-in forms, or in-person registration at designated locations such as county offices or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices. Make sure to check the registration deadlines and any additional requirements, such as providing identification or proof of residency.

Once you are registered, you can participate in local, state, and federal elections for offices such as President, Senators, Representatives, Governors, and other elected officials. Your vote allows you to have a say in critical issues, policies, and the future of your community.

Remember, voting is not simply a right; it is also a responsibility. Educate yourself on the candidates, their platforms, and the issues at hand. Consider attending debates, researching their positions, and evaluating their track records to make an informed decision when casting your ballot.

“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

By exercising your right to vote, you have the ability to shape the future and promote positive change. Don’t underestimate the impact a single vote can have on the democratic process. Your participation matters, and by making your voice heard, you contribute to the collective power of the people.

Voting at 18: Key Points
You can register to vote once you turn 18
Registration allows you to participate in local, state, and federal elections
Educate yourself on candidates, issues, and policies
Make your voice heard and contribute to the democratic process

Joining the Military

joining the military at 18

Joining the military is an honorable and courageous decision that many young adults consider. At the age of 18, you have the opportunity to enlist or be drafted into a branch of the military, embarking on a journey of service, self-discovery, and career advancement.

Enlisting at 18 allows you to embrace the challenges and rewards of military life. Whether you choose the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, military service provides a unique and fulfilling path that offers personal growth, camaraderie, and the chance to make a difference.

By enlisting, you become part of a dedicated team that defends the nation’s interests, upholds peace and security, and supports humanitarian efforts across the globe. The military offers a wide range of fulfilling career opportunities, from combat roles to technical specialties, administration, healthcare, and more. With hard work, dedication, and continuous training, you can rise through the ranks and pursue leadership positions within your chosen branch.

Joining the military at 18 also provides access to invaluable benefits and resources. From comprehensive healthcare coverage to educational opportunities, including tuition assistance and the GI Bill, the military invests in the personal and professional development of its service members.

To join the military at 18, you will need to meet certain requirements, including physical and medical fitness standards, educational qualifications, and adherence to the branch’s specific enlistment criteria. It’s important to research and understand the enlistment process, which typically involves aptitude tests, screenings, and interviews, to ensure you are fully prepared to embark on your military journey.

“Service in the military creates a foundation for lifelong learning and personal growth.”

Benefits of Joining the Military at 18

Joining the military at 18 not only involves serving your country but also offers numerous benefits. Here are some key advantages:

Benefits of Joining the Military at 18
Opportunity for career advancement and skill development
Access to comprehensive healthcare and dental benefits
Financial stability with a steady income and potential for bonuses
Opportunity to travel and experience new cultures
Access to educational benefits, including tuition assistance and the GI Bill
Retirement benefits and pension plan
Support for veterans and their families
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Joining the military at 18 is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and commitment. It’s essential to research, consult with military recruiters, and speak to current or former service members to gain a comprehensive understanding of military life and the expectations that come with it.

Donating Blood and Becoming an Organ Donor

Blood Donation and Organ Donation

One of the most impactful ways to help save lives is through blood donation and organ donation. By registering to donate blood and becoming an organ donor, you can make a significant difference in the health and well-being of those in need.

Donating blood is a simple yet powerful act of kindness that can potentially save multiple lives. Blood donation is vital for various medical procedures, including surgeries, trauma care, and treatments for individuals with blood disorders or cancer. By donating blood, you are providing a lifeline to patients who rely on blood transfusions to survive or improve their quality of life.

Additionally, becoming an organ donor can be a life-changing decision. Organ transplantation is often the only hope for individuals suffering from organ failure or end-stage organ diseases. By registering as an organ donor, you give the gift of life by allowing your organs to be used for transplantation after your passing. This act of generosity can offer a second chance at life to those in need, providing them with hope and the opportunity to regain their health and independence.

The Impact of Blood and Organ Donation

“The need for blood and organs is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood, and approximately 17 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant.”

Donating blood and becoming an organ donor not only has a profound impact on individual lives but also contributes to the overall well-being of communities. By giving the gift of life through blood or organ donation, you are supporting medical advancements, improving healthcare outcomes, and fostering a sense of compassion and unity among individuals.

Organizations such as the American Red Cross and Donate Life America provide valuable resources and information on blood and organ donation, making it easy for individuals to get involved and make a difference. Consider registering as a blood donor and organ donor today to help save lives and bring hope to those in need.

The Importance of Donating Blood and Organs at 18

“As an 18-year-old, you have reached the age of majority and have the opportunity to make choices that can positively impact the lives of others. By donating blood and becoming an organ donor, you demonstrate empathy, compassion, and the willingness to be a source of hope for those in need.”

Blood donation is typically open to individuals who are 17 years old or older, but some states allow 16-year-olds to donate blood with parental consent. However, upon turning 18, you have the autonomy to make this decision without restrictions. This newfound independence grants you the ability to take part in blood drives, contribute to blood banks, and provide essential resources to healthcare facilities.

Similarly, becoming an organ donor at 18 enables you to make a significant impact in the lives of others. This decision allows your organs to be utilized for transplants, offering hope and a chance at life to individuals on waiting lists. By becoming an organ donor, you become part of a compassionate community working together to save lives and improve the well-being of those in need.

Blood Donation Organ Donation
Can potentially save multiple lives Offers a second chance at life
Supports medical procedures and treatments Helps individuals suffering from organ failure
Contributes to the overall well-being of communities Fosters medical advancements and improved healthcare outcomes

Donating blood and becoming an organ donor are selfless acts that have a lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of others. By registering to donate blood and becoming an organ donor at 18, you have the power to make a difference in your community and bring hope to those in need.

Working Full Time

employment opportunities for 18-year-olds

As a legal adult turning 18, you now have the opportunity to work full time and explore a wide range of employment opportunities. Gone are the restrictions imposed by child labor laws that limited the number of hours you could work. This transition into adulthood opens up doors for career growth and financial independence.

With full-time employment rights, you can now commit to working a set number of hours per week and even take on overtime if desired. Many industries offer entry-level positions that are suitable for 18-year-olds looking to gain valuable work experience and pave their way towards success.

Working full time at 18 provides numerous benefits. It allows you to earn a steady income, develop crucial skills, and establish a solid foundation for your professional future. Whether you choose to enter the workforce immediately or explore vocational training and apprenticeships, the opportunities are abundant, and the choice is in your hands.

“Working full time at 18 offers young adults the chance to gain real-world experience and take the first steps towards building a successful career.” – Sarah Thompson, Human Resources Manager

Whether you’re considering a part-time job to support your education or diving headfirst into a rewarding career, the freedom to work full time brings exciting possibilities. It’s important to familiarize yourself with labor laws and regulations specific to your state to ensure you exercise your rights responsibly and make informed choices about your employment journey.

To illustrate the numerous employment opportunities available to 18-year-olds, let’s take a look at a sample table showcasing popular industries and the types of jobs you can pursue:

Industry Job Opportunities
Food Service Server, Barista, Cook
Retail Sales Associate, Cashier, Visual Merchandiser
Healthcare Nursing Assistant, Medical Receptionist, Pharmacy Technician
Construction Apprentice Electrician, Laborer, Carpenter’s Assistant
Education Tutor, Teacher’s Assistant, Camp Counselor
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As you embark on your full-time employment journey, it’s essential to consider your interests, strengths, and long-term goals. Exploring different industries and job roles can help you discover your passion and hone your skills. Additionally, networking and seeking mentorship from experienced professionals in your chosen field can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Empowering Young Adults Through Full-Time Employment

Working full time at 18 grants you the autonomy to shape your future and make meaningful contributions to society. It allows you to learn from experienced individuals, develop essential life skills, and establish a strong work ethic that will serve you well throughout your professional journey. With each step you take, you’re one step closer to achieving your goals and fulfilling your potential.

Playing the Lottery

playing the lottery at 18

From scratch-off tickets to the Powerball, playing the lottery is an exciting activity that is open to anyone who is 18 years of age or older. Whether you are a casual player or a dedicated enthusiast, the lottery offers a chance to test your luck and potentially win big.

Lottery games come in various formats, allowing you to choose the one that suits your preferences the most. Whether you prefer instant gratification with scratch-off tickets or the thrill of participating in large jackpot drawings like the Powerball, there is a game for every type of player.

Playing the lottery is not only a fun pastime, but it can also offer the possibility of significant rewards. Many people enjoy the anticipation and excitement that comes with checking their numbers and hoping for a life-changing win. It’s important to remember that the lottery is a game of chance, and while the odds of winning may be low, the allure of the jackpot is what keeps players coming back.

Pros of Playing the Lottery at 18 Cons of Playing the Lottery at 18
  • Potential for life-changing wins
  • Opportunity to indulge in a fun and exciting activity
  • Chance to support various good causes through lottery proceeds
  • Risk of developing gambling addiction
  • Low odds of winning
  • Potential loss of money if not played responsibly

It’s important to approach lottery play responsibly and within your means. Set a budget for yourself and stick to it, and remember that playing the lottery should be seen as a form of entertainment rather than a guaranteed investment strategy.

“Playing the lottery gives me a sense of excitement and hope. Even though the chances of winning may be slim, the anticipation of the draw is enough to make it worthwhile.”

Obtaining Special Driving Permits

Special Driving Permits

For individuals who are 18 years old and looking to work in industries that require special driving permits, obtaining a special driving license is now possible. These permits are necessary for jobs that involve heavy equipment operation or transportation services, providing opportunities for specialized careers in specific industries.

Special driving permits can be obtained through training and certification programs. These programs ensure that individuals have the necessary skills and knowledge to safely operate specialized vehicles. By acquiring a special driving license, you can access job opportunities that require these permits and embark on a rewarding career path.

Whether you’re interested in operating construction machinery, driving commercial vehicles, or becoming a delivery driver, having special driving permits can significantly enhance your employability. These permits allow you to take on challenging roles in various sectors, including construction, logistics, transportation, and more.

To learn more about the requirements and process for obtaining special driving permits, it is recommended to contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or visit their official website. They will be able to provide you with the specific guidelines and information regarding the necessary steps and training programs available in your area.

Benefits of Obtaining Special Driving Permits
Access to specialized job opportunities
Higher earning potential
Enhanced job security in industries that require specialized driving skills
Opportunity for career advancement

By acquiring special driving permits, you can unlock a range of advantages and open doors to fulfilling careers. Whether it’s working on construction sites, transporting goods across the country, or operating specialized vehicles, these permits provide you with the skills and qualifications necessary to excel in your chosen industry.

Investing in your training and obtaining special driving permits can pave the way for a successful and rewarding career that aligns with your interests and goals.

Purchasing and Using Tobacco Products (in Some States)

The legal age to buy tobacco products varies across different states in the US. While the majority of states have set the minimum age at 18 years old, some states have recently changed the age restriction to 21. It’s important to know the regulations in your state to ensure you are following the law.

In states where the legal smoking age is 18, individuals who meet this age requirement can purchase and use tobacco products responsibly. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential health risks associated with smoking and make informed decisions about your own well-being.

For those residing in states where the minimum age has been raised to 21, such as Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and many others, it’s essential to abide by the updated regulations and wait until you reach the legal age to purchase tobacco products.

In light of the increasing concerns about the health consequences of smoking, raising the legal smoking age to 21 is a measure taken by several states to mitigate the potential risks among young adults. This change aims to discourage tobacco use among individuals who may be more susceptible to its harmful effects.

Ultimately, regardless of the legal smoking age in your state, it’s advisable to consider the potential risks of tobacco use and make choices that prioritize your health and well-being. Quitting smoking or avoiding tobacco products altogether is always a wise decision for your long-term health and quality of life.

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Driving Late at Night

When it comes to driving late at night, there are curfew restrictions in place for minors in most states. These curfews determine the specific hours during which individuals under the age of 18 are allowed to be out on the roads. If a person under 18 is pulled over past the curfew hour, they may receive a traffic violation.

“Observe the curfew hours and respect the driving restrictions to avoid any legal consequences.”

However, as an 18-year-old, you are not subject to these curfew restrictions. Once you turn 18, you have the freedom to drive at any time of the day or night without worrying about curfew limitations.

Benefits of Driving Late at Night

Driving late at night can have its advantages. For instance, if you have a late-night job or need to travel long distances when the roads are less congested, driving during off-peak hours can provide a smoother and more efficient commute.

Additionally, late-night driving can offer a sense of tranquility, allowing you to enjoy the open road with fewer distractions. However, it’s essential to remain cautious and alert, especially during late hours when fatigue can become a factor.

Pros of Driving Late at Night Cons of Driving Late at Night
1. Less traffic congestion 1. Increased risk of encountering fatigued or drunk drivers
2. Quieter roads for a more peaceful drive 2. Limited availability of services and assistance, especially in remote areas
3. Faster commute times due to fewer vehicles on the road 3. Decreased visibility at night, requiring heightened attention
4. Potential for reduced travel time during emergencies 4. Increased likelihood of encountering wildlife

Remember, always prioritize safety and adhere to all traffic laws and regulations, regardless of the time of day. Make sure to stay well-rested if driving late at night and be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may arise.


Turning 18 opens up a world of possibilities and opportunities for young adults in the United States. At this age, you gain the legal rights to vote, allowing you to have a say in shaping the future of your community and country. Additionally, joining the military becomes a viable option, offering the chance to serve your nation and embark on a fulfilling career.

Beyond civic duties, turning 18 grants you the ability to work full-time, providing more employment opportunities and the potential for personal and professional growth. You can also enjoy the newfound freedom of purchasing tobacco products in most states and playing the lottery, adding a touch of excitement to your adult life.

As you navigate this new chapter, it’s essential to be aware of your rights and the responsibilities that come with them. Embrace the age of majority and make the most of the numerous opportunities available to you at 18. Take advantage of the chance to shape your future and contribute to a thriving and vibrant society.


What can you do when you turn 18 in the US?

When you turn 18 in the US, you gain various rights and opportunities. Some of the things you can do include voting, joining the military, working full time, playing the lottery, obtaining special driving permits, and more.

What are the voting rights at age 18 in the US?

Once you turn 18 and are registered to vote, you have the legal right to vote in all national and local elections in the US.

Can I join the military at 18?

Yes, when you turn 18, you have the opportunity to enlist or be drafted into a branch of the military. Joining the military at 18 opens up possibilities for service and career advancement in the armed forces.

Can I donate blood and become an organ donor at 18?

Absolutely! At 18, you can register to donate blood and become an organ donor. Donating blood and organs can make a significant impact in improving the health and well-being of those in need.

What are the employment opportunities for 18 year olds?

As an 18-year-old, you have the privilege of working full time and even overtime. This opens up more opportunities for employment and career growth.

Can I play the lottery at 18?

Yes, anyone 18 years and older can play the lottery in the US. Playing the lottery can be a fun and potentially rewarding activity for those who enjoy games of chance.

How can I obtain special driving permits at 18?

If you work for a company that has heavy equipment or provides transportation services requiring special driving permits, you can now train for and acquire a special driving license. This opens up opportunities for specialized jobs and careers in certain industries.

Can I purchase and use tobacco products at 18?

The legal age to buy tobacco products has recently changed from 18 to 21 in some states across the US, but the majority of states have kept it at 18 years old. However, it’s important to note that states like Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, as well as 350 cities, have implemented the age change to 21.

Are there any driving restrictions for 18 year olds?

Most states have a legal curfew for minors when it comes to driving late at night. However, as an 18-year-old, you are not subject to these curfew restrictions.

What can I expect when I turn 18 in terms of rights and opportunities?

When you turn 18, you gain a range of rights and opportunities, from voting and joining the military to working full time and purchasing certain products. It’s important to be aware of these new privileges and responsibilities as you transition into adulthood.

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