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Trends in Laws Governing the Behavior of Late Adolescents up to Age 21 Since Roper


This paper provides a summary of federal and state laws, including statutes, regulations, and constitutional provisions, that restrict the privileges and abilities of late adolescents up to age 21. In several areas, governments have raised the minimum legal age for certain privileges or licenses from 18 to 21, or instituted new age restrictions with a minimum age of 21. The paper concludes that, since the Roper decision in 2005, the federal and state governments have maintained and enacted laws demonstrating a societal consensus that people under 21 need to be protected from their own high-risk behavior; that the public at large needs to be protected from the immaturity and impulsivity of those under age 21; and that those under 21 are considered minors who must be supervised by adults in several legal contexts.

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This article is part of the Special Issue: Law, Neuroscience, and Death as a Penalty for the Late Adolescent Class; Dr. Robert Leark, Guest Editor.

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Meggitt, A. Trends in Laws Governing the Behavior of Late Adolescents up to Age 21 Since Roper. J Pediatr Neuropsychol 7, 74–87 (2021).

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  • Death penalty
  • Roper
  • Adolescence
  • Law and neuroscience