What Can You Do At 18 In California? A Guide To Your New Rights

Turning 18 is a major milestone. As an 18-year-old in California, you gain many new freedoms and responsibilities overnight. But what exactly changes when you become a legal adult in the Golden State?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: At 18 in California, you can vote, serve on a jury, get a tattoo, play the state lottery, apply for credit, get married without parental consent, and much more.

This comprehensive guide covers all the privileges, rights, and duties you take on as a new 18-year-old Californian. We’ll go over everything from voting and joining the military to getting medical care, signing contracts, and more.

Voting, Jury Duty and Other Civic Duties

Turning 18 years old is an exciting milestone in California, as it comes with a range of new rights and responsibilities. One of the most important aspects of reaching adulthood is participating in civic duties that help shape the community and the country as a whole.

Here are some of the key civic duties you can engage in once you turn 18 in California.

Register to Vote

Registering to vote is an essential step in exercising your right to have a say in the democratic process. In California, you can register to vote as soon as you turn 18, and it is incredibly easy to do so.

Simply visit the California Secretary of State’s website (www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voter-registration) to register online or find information on how to register by mail. By participating in elections, you can have a direct impact on the policies and leaders that shape your community and your state.

Serve on a Jury

Another important civic duty is serving on a jury. Once you turn 18, you become eligible to be summoned for jury duty in California. Being a juror allows you to play an active role in the justice system, ensuring that individuals receive a fair trial.

It is an opportunity to make a difference and contribute to upholding the principles of justice. Serving on a jury can be a rewarding experience, giving you a unique insight into the legal system and the chance to work alongside other community members to reach a fair verdict.

Run for Local Office

If you have a passion for politics and want to make a direct impact on your community, you can even consider running for local office. While running for higher offices like governor or senator may require you to be older, there are numerous local positions you can pursue at the age of 18.

These may include roles such as city council member, school board representative, or other community leadership positions. Running for local office allows you to bring your fresh perspective and ideas to the table, and it is a fantastic way to make a positive change in your community.

Remember, turning 18 in California opens the door to a range of new opportunities and responsibilities. By registering to vote, serving on a jury, or running for local office, you can actively engage in shaping the future of your community and the state.

Take advantage of these rights and make your voice heard!

New Financial Rights and Responsibilities

Turning 18 in California comes with a set of new rights and responsibilities, especially in the realm of finance. As a young adult, you gain the ability to make important financial decisions and take control of your own financial future.

Here are some key financial rights and responsibilities that you can now exercise:

Open a Bank Account

One of the first steps towards financial independence is opening a bank account. At 18, you have the right to open your own checking or savings account without needing a parent or guardian’s permission.

Having a bank account provides a safe place to deposit your earnings and helps you manage your money more effectively. Additionally, many banks offer special accounts and benefits for young adults, so be sure to explore your options and find the account that suits your needs.

Take Out Loans

At 18, you have the legal capacity to take out loans, including student loans, car loans, or personal loans. However, it’s important to approach borrowing responsibly and understand the terms and conditions of any loan you take on.

Consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, and the impact of borrowing on your credit score. Taking out loans can be a valuable tool for achieving your goals, but make sure to borrow only what you can afford to repay.

File Taxes

With the arrival of your 18th birthday, you become responsible for filing your own income taxes. This includes reporting any income you earn from employment, investments, or self-employment. Filing taxes can seem daunting, but there are resources available to help you navigate the process.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website provides step-by-step instructions, forms, and even free e-filing options. Remember, filing your taxes accurately and on time is essential to avoid penalties and ensure compliance with the law.

Rent an Apartment

As an 18-year-old, you now have the right to enter into rental agreements and lease an apartment. Renting an apartment gives you the freedom to live independently and experience personal growth. However, it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

Research local rental laws, read the lease agreement carefully, and be aware of your obligations regarding rent payments, maintenance, and other terms. It’s also a good idea to have renter’s insurance to protect your belongings in case of unforeseen events.

Remember, with new financial rights come new responsibilities. Take the time to educate yourself about personal finance, budgeting, and making informed financial decisions. Seek advice from trusted sources, such as financial advisors or reputable websites like Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or Internal Revenue Service.

By exercising your new financial rights responsibly, you can pave the way for a successful and financially secure future.

Health Care Decisions

Consent to Medical Treatment

At 18, you are legally considered an adult in California, which means you have the right to make your own health care decisions. This includes giving consent for medical treatment. Whether it’s a routine check-up or a more serious procedure, you have the authority to make decisions about your own health without needing parental consent.

It’s important to be informed about the potential risks and benefits of any medical treatment or procedure before making a decision.

Get Vaccinations Without Parental OK

One of the great benefits of turning 18 in California is the ability to get vaccinated without needing parental permission. Vaccinations are crucial for protecting yourself and others from preventable diseases.

By getting vaccinated, you not only safeguard your own health but also contribute to the overall well-being of the community. It’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional to determine which vaccinations are appropriate for you based on your medical history and lifestyle.

Donate Blood

Blood donation is an incredible act of kindness that can save lives. Once you turn 18 in California, you have the opportunity to donate blood without parental consent. Donated blood is used for various medical procedures, including surgeries, emergency treatments, and transfusions for patients with certain medical conditions.

By donating blood, you become a part of a life-saving network that helps those in need. To find a blood donation center near you, visit the American Red Cross website.

Contracts and Legal Agreements

Turning 18 in California comes with a host of new rights and responsibilities. One area in which you gain newfound autonomy is in entering into contracts and legal agreements. Here are some key things you can do at 18:

Sign Binding Contracts

Once you turn 18, you have the legal ability to sign binding contracts. This means you can enter into agreements for a variety of purposes, such as leasing an apartment, buying a car, or securing a loan.

It’s important to remember that signing a contract is a serious commitment, so it’s crucial to thoroughly read and understand the terms before putting pen to paper. If you have any doubts or concerns, it’s always a good idea to seek legal advice to ensure you’re making a sound decision.

Get Married Without Consent

At 18, you also have the right to get married without the need for parental consent. This means that if you meet someone special and decide to tie the knot, you have the legal freedom to do so. However, it’s important to remember that marriage is a significant life decision, and it’s always wise to carefully consider the implications before taking this step.

It may be helpful to seek guidance from trusted family members, friends, or even a counselor to ensure that you are making a well-informed choice.

Write a Will

Another important right you gain at 18 is the ability to write a will. While it may seem morbid to think about, having a will ensures that your wishes are carried out after your passing. Writing a will allows you to designate how your assets and possessions should be distributed and who should be responsible for carrying out your final wishes.

It is highly recommended to consult with a lawyer or estate planning professional to ensure that your will is legally valid and properly reflects your intentions.

For more detailed information on contracts and legal agreements, you can visit the California Courts website at www.courts.ca.gov. It provides valuable resources and guidance to help you navigate the legal landscape.

Other New Freedoms at 18

Buy Lottery Tickets

Turning 18 in California comes with a range of new opportunities and responsibilities. One of the exciting new freedoms is the ability to buy lottery tickets. No longer restricted by age, young adults can now try their luck and participate in the thrill of playing the lottery.

Whether it’s scratching off a scratch card or selecting numbers for a jackpot, buying lottery tickets can add a bit of excitement to your newly acquired adult status. Just remember to play responsibly and within your means.

Get Body Modifications

Once you reach 18 in California, you have the legal right to make decisions about your body and appearance. This includes getting body modifications, such as tattoos and piercings, without parental consent.

It’s important to carefully consider any permanent changes to your body and ensure you choose a reputable and licensed establishment. Take the time to research different tattoo parlors or piercing studios, read reviews, and ask for recommendations from friends who have had positive experiences.

Remember, it’s your body, so make sure you’re comfortable with the choices you make.

Gamble on Tribal Lands

For those looking for a little more excitement and entertainment, turning 18 opens up the opportunity to gamble on tribal lands in California. Many tribal casinos allow individuals who are 18 years or older to participate in various forms of gambling, such as slot machines, card games, and bingo.

However, it’s important to note that the legal gambling age may vary depending on the specific casino and tribal regulations. Before visiting a tribal casino, it’s always a good idea to check their age requirements and guidelines to ensure you are eligible to participate.


Turning 18 is an exciting milestone for any Californian. As an adult, you gain many new privileges like voting, signing contracts, and making healthcare decisions. However, adulthood also brings responsibilities like jury duty, loans, and taxes. While you can enjoy your new independence, remember to act wisely and avoid pitfalls like credit card debt. With your new rights, you have the power to shape your future and community in California and beyond.

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