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Oct 9, 2019

Statewide TABC Back-To-School Undercover Operations Catch 145 Retailers Selling Alcohol to Minors

A statewide effort by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce Texas' underage drinking laws found that eight percent of the more than 1,800 retailers visited in the operation sold alcohol to a minor.

The finding was part of a statewide push timed to coincide with the start of the college fall semester. During the operation, minor-aged volunteers under the supervision of undercover TABC agents entered TABC-licensed businesses where they attempted to buy alcohol. While similar operations regularly occur across the state, the back-to-school operation targeted retailers in cities where colleges or universities are located during the month of August.

In all, 1,878 undercover operations were recorded during the back-to-school period. Of those, 1,390 were held at locations where alcohol is purchased for off-premise consumption, such as liquor stores or convenience stores. A further 488 operations took place at locations where liquor is consumed on-premise, such as bars and restaurants. TABC agents recorded a total of 145 sales to minors – 88 at off-premise locations and 57 at on-premise locations.

Overall, the back-to-school violation rate of eight percent is lower than the statewide average violation rate of nearly 10 percent. During the last 12 months, TABC agents conducted a total of 11,210 underage compliance operations, finding a total of 1,171 violations.

"A single instance of selling alcohol to a minor can destroy lives and endanger public safety," said Bentley Nettles, TABC Executive Director. "While we're pleased that the vast majority of retailers are doing the right thing, this year's back-to-school operation shows that we must remain vigilant and stop those retailers who are breaking the law. TABC will continue to educate retailers about the importance of obeying Texas' underage-drinking laws and will work with all industry stakeholders to ensure their employees have the resources they need to operate safely."

Businesses cited for selling alcohol to a minor could face TABC administrative action including a civil fine and the temporary or permanent suspension of their liquor license. Individual employees who sell alcohol to minors could also face Class A misdemeanor charges.

Businesses seeking more information about underage drinking laws can download free educational materials at TABC's 2young2drink website. Business owners can also request free training by TABC auditors on best practices to avoid selling alcohol to minors.

Media Contact:Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462