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When You Become 18 updated and translated

When you become 18
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Your kid is 18 now: Does she need her own car insurance? Can he buy beer for himself and his friends? If she drinks but doesn’t drive, can her license be taken away? Does he need his own Social Security number to get a job?

The answers to these and many other questions may be found in the State Bar’s revised version of When You Become 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers, included in this issue of the California Bar Journal.

Last printed in 2002, When You Become 18 is a comprehensive guide for all teenagers as they prepare to turn 18 and become an adult in the eyes of the law. Question-and-answer discussions include drugs, drinking, driving, sex, credit, identity theft and myriad other rules and responsibilities that affect teens as they prepare for adulthood.

“When You Become 18 provides teenagers with an excellent resource guide to learn about laws that will affect them as they reach the adult age of 18,” said State Bar President John Van de Kamp. “The guide also serves as a tool for parents to help their teenagers learn about appropriate behavior in different circumstances.”

When You Become 18 is the second guide of a three-part series published by the State Bar. The first, Kids & the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents, was last published in 2004. The third, Seniors & the Law: A Guide for Maturing Californians, was published for the first time in 2003 and will appear again in 2006.

Each guide is revised and re-released every three years on Law Day (May 1), all with monetary support from the Foundation of the State Bar. The new version of When You Become 18 debuted late last month in Sacramento at the California State Parent-Teacher Association annual convention. The PTA has been a major distributor of both Kids & the Law and When You Become 18 to public school systems throughout the state.

“With the generous support of California’s lawyers and our corporate sponsors, the Foundation of the State Bar invests in California communities through its grant, scholarship and education programs,” said foundation President Pauline Weaver. Noting that the foundation provided $50,000 to help pay for When You Become 18 this year, Weaver said her board is “proud to partner with the State Bar to educate young adults about their rights and responsibilities under the law.”

When You Become 18 is one of the State Bar’s “most successful programs in providing valuable legal information to the public,” said bar Executive Director Judy Johnson. She noted that in addition to When You Become 18, Kids & the Law and Seniors & the Law, the State Bar also produces a series of 21 popular consumer information pamphlets in the Get the Legal Facts of Life series, many in translated versions. The newest pamphlet, What Should I Know About Serving on a Jury?, also is being released this month (see page 1 for details).

“We hope lawyers who are parents and are receiving When You Become 18 in this Bar Journal will share this vital information with all the teenagers in their lives,” said Johnson, who added that she hopes lawyers who no longer have teenagers at home or in college will pass on their copy to colleagues who are parents, local libraries or any other individual or organization who can benefit from this information.

Some of the questions answered in the booklet include:

  • MILITARY SERVICE — Am I required to register? How do I register? Can I enlist? If the draft were reinstated, who would be called first?
  • SURFING THE INTERNET — Is downloading pictures or music against the law? Is it safe to give out personal information online? Can my boss monitor my e-mails?
  • VOTING — Who can vote? Where do I register? If I’m away at college, can I vote there?
  • ALCOHOL AND DRUGS — Am I allowed to buy alcohol? What can happen if I am arrested for drug possession? Is it against the law to use someone else’s prescription? Am I breaking the law if I use steroids?
  • MARRIAGE AND PARTNERSHIPS — What is community property? What is a prenuptial agreement? Does my new spouse have to support me? Can same-sex couples get married?
  • DRIVING — Do I need my own insurance? What could happen if I drink and drive? Do I need a license to ride a bicycle?
  • MOVING OUT — What if I don’t pay my rent on time? Must a lease be written? Should I get renter’s insurance?
  • HAVING FUN — What can I do if strangers crash my party? Are there limits on a college fraternity initiation? What can happen if I’m caught spray-painting graffiti? Do I need a license to fish?

In addition to print copies, all of the State Bar’s consumer education materials are available online at Click on Public Services in the upper left of the home page, then Consumer Information in the left menu.


Orders for When You Become 18 should be sent to gov. The publication is available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Korean, and all copies are free. Please specify the number of guides (there are no restrictions on amounts) and language versions desired and include a complete mailing address (P.O. boxes are not acceptable).

While shipping charges also are free, contributions are always acceptable, especially for large orders.

If you do not have access to the Internet, please call toll-free 1-888-875-LAWS for a regular U.S. Postal Service mailing address to send your request. See p. 13 for information about other guides.

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