Texas state law does not require a person over 21 to present an ID to buy alcohol in Texas. Nothing in the law declares specific forms of “valid” IDs for alcohol purchases. But since store clerks, wait staff and bartenders can be criminally liable for selling alcohol to a minor, they often require a photo ID issued by a government agency.
A person who sells a minor an alcoholic beverage does not commit an offense if the minor falsely represents themselves to be 21 or older with an apparently valid ID that:
- Contains a physical description and photograph that appears to match the minor's appearance.
- Seems to establish the minor is 21 or older.
- May be a driver's license issued by any state, a U.S. passport, a military ID card or any other ID issued by a state or the federal government.
A store, bar or restaurant chooses whether to sell alcohol to a person with an expired driver's license, a foreign passport or other ID. What's acceptable is a matter of that establishment's private business policies. If the customer is obviously over 21, the establishment may not require any ID.
The following internal company policies are stricter than what state law requires, but establishments have the legal right to insist on proof of age for alcohol purchases:
- Some retailers in Texas have policies requiring that customers provide proof of age for all alcoholic beverage purchases, regardless of their age.
- Some will only accept a Texas driver's license or Texas ID card as “valid identification.”
- Some insist that everyone in a group show proof that they are 21 or older when anyone in the group is attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. This is an attempt to prevent adults from illegally providing alcohol to minors.
- Unlike alcohol, state and federal law says that anyone under 30 must show ID before buying cigarettes.
- Also different from alcohol, state law provides a statutory defense to the charge of selling cigarettes to someone under 21 when the buyer presented to the defendant an apparently valid ID issued by a government agency (including a military ID, passport or out-of-state driver's license).
- TABC does not regulate the sale of cigarettes. Any further questions should be directed to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.