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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Wisconsin’s legal drinking age is 21, but people under 21 can legally drink alcoholic beverages in establishments such as taverns and restaurants if they are with their parents, guardians or spouses of legal drinking age.

However, establishments can refuse to serve underage people.

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue confirmed that the exception applies to everyone under 21, including 18-, 19- and 20-year-old adults.

Wisconsin is among 31 states that allow family members to legally give alcohol to minors, according to

In May 2023 Republican Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill that would change state law to allow people as young as 14 to serve alcohol in bars and restaurants; currently, only adults 18 and over can serve alcohol in Wisconsin. No votes have been taken.

In 2020 Wisconsinites died from alcohol-induced causes at a rate nearly 25% higher than the national rate, the Wisconsin Policy Forum reported in January 2022.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


State of Wisconsin Department of Revenue: DOR Alcohol Beverage Laws for Retailers

Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature: 125.07(1)(a) When Is It Legal For Minors To Drink?

Wisconsin State Legislature: Wisconsin Legislature: AB286: Bill Text

Wisconsin State Legislature: 2023 Assembly Bill 286

Wisconsin Watch: Would Wisconsin have the lowest age in the US for serving alcohol if a bill allowing 14-year-olds to serve is made law?

Wisconsin Policy Forum: A Sobering Trend: Alcohol Deaths Up Sharply in Wisconsin

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.