AUSTIN – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has begun its annual push to crack down on retailers who sell alcohol to minors during the busy back-to-school season.
The six-week-long operation began Aug. 13 and continues until the end of September. During that time, TABC agents will conduct undercover operations at alcohol retailers located near major colleges and universities across the state. During the operations, undercover TABC agents use minors to attempt to purchase alcohol. If a sale takes place, TABC agents enter the business to notify its managers of the violation.
TABC regularly conducts the undercover operations, which are also known as minor stings. During the 12-month period of August 2017-August 2018, agents conducted more than 11,400 stings statewide, finding a total of 1,223 violations for a total compliance rate of nearly 90 percent.
“We are fortunate to work with businesses who understand the dangers of selling alcohol to minors,” said Bentley Nettles, TABC Executive Director. “By and large, only a small number of alcohol retailers are cited for a violation. However, as we’ve seen in numerous recent cases in Houston and elsewhere, even one sale is too many. Underage drinking is a serious risk to public health, and we will continue to work with retailers and local law enforcement to ensure alcohol is sold safely and legally.”
The extended operations schedule is thanks to a traffic safety grant from the Texas Department of Transportation. The grant also allows TABC to join forces with retailers in a bid to identify minors using fake IDs to purchase alcohol. During these “Operation Fake Out” stings, TABC will work directly with security staff at alcohol retailers in college communities to scan and identify any fraudulent IDs in minors’ possession.
Selling alcohol to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail. In addition, businesses cited by TABC for selling alcohol to minors could be required to pay a fine and may have their license to sell alcohol temporarily suspended.
Minors accused of possessing a fake ID could face a Class C misdemeanor charge, which is punishable by up to a $500 fine.