A Personal Story
While shopping for my 4th of July Bar-B-Q, I tossed a pack of beer on the conveyer belt at the grocery store, along with my ribs and corn on the cob.
I showed the cashier my ID, but then she asked to see my wife’s ID as well. A bit puzzled, I asked why my wife had to show hers too, and the cashier told me that “it’s the law, we have to check the ID of everyone in the group if someone purchases alcohol.”
I was still puzzled because she didn’t ask to see my 11 year old son’s ID too, but let’s pretend that I didn’t make a scene and examine what the law really says.
Minors Can Drink Alcohol
We have already established that it is legal for minors to drink alcohol under certain circumstances in a previous blog; Cheers, Kiddo! Actually, we’re not going to rehash all of that here, so if you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and do that now and then come back and finish this blog.
Can’t Sell to Minors
Ok, so now you know about all of the ways that minors can drink alcohol, lets discuss the people that aren’t selling alcohol to minors.
A person commits an offense if with criminal negligence he sells an alcoholic beverage to a minor. However, there it is a defense to prosecution if the minor falsely represents himself to be 21 years old or older by displaying an apparently valid proof of identification that contains a physical description and photograph consistent with the minor’s appearance, purports to establish that the minor is 21 years of age or older, and was issued by a governmental agency.
—See Tex. Alco. Bev. Code § 106.03
Can’t Give to Minors
A person commits an offense if he purchases an alcoholic beverage for, or gives, or with criminal negligence, makes available an alcoholic beverage to a minor. Don’t forget about the exceptions in the other blog, you read it right?
—See Tex. Alco. Bev. Code § 106.06
Ok, so we’ve established that the merchant can’t sell alcohol to the minors, and the purchaser can furnish alcohol to minors, but where’s that law that forces the store to check the ID of every single person in the group?
It Does Not Exist!
That’s right, there is no such law that requires a cashier to check everyone’s ID! I’ve been lied to!
In fact, the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission admits on their very own website that there is no law requiring merchants to check everyone’s ID. Here’s what TABC had to say:
Some retailers in Texas have policies requiring that customers provide proof of age for all alcoholic beverage purchases, regardless of the age of the customer.
There are some other retailers in Texas that will only accept a Texas Driver’s License or Texas Identification Card as “valid identification” to purchase alcoholic beverages.
Some retailers will insist that everyone in a group show proof that they are 21 or over when anyone in the group is attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. This is an attempt to prevent adults from illegally providing alcohol to minors.
These are internal company policies and are more strict than what state law requires. However, these establishments have the legal right to insist on proof of age for alcohol purchases.
—See Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission—Age Verification
So What Can You Do?
When you’re faced with the decision of complying with a store policy that intrudes on your family/friends’ right to privacy, what are your options?
Option #1, your family members can tell the merchant that they do not have an ID to show. If it is your spouse or child, you can even inform the merchant that it isn’t illegal for you to provide your spouse or child with alcohol regardless of age, so their ridiculous store policy serves no purpose.
Option #2, you can tell the merchant that your friends/family aren’t going to show them squat. At that point, you’ve double-dog dared them to be the bad guy and have to get a manager. Since it is a store policy, they have the discretion on how/when to “enforce” it, and chances are, the manager isn’t going to be really excited about upsetting the loud mouthed patron who just wants to buy a six pack of cheap beer; worst case scenario that patron has a legal blog to complain to the world on.
Options #3/#4, you can either roll over, show all IDs, and let the merchant get away with a ridiculous policy, or you can stand your ground and walk out without paying or taking any of your items with you. If you choose this step, it might be best for you to put your alcohol first on the conveyor belt so you didn’t just waste all of that time bagging groceries that you aren’t taking home.
–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,
Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Criminal Defense Division
1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309
Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479