Is Universal Carding Fool's Paradise for Preventing Sales of Wine and Liquor to Minors in Tennessee?

Is Universal Carding Fool's Paradise for Preventing Sales of Wine and Liquor to Minors in Tennessee?

Tennessee's Wine in Grocery Store law requires that liquor stores card everyone beginning July 1, 2014.  WIGS also requires food stores to card everyone for wine sales, when WIGS becomes effective for groceries and other food stores on July 1, 2016.

Known as universal carding in the liquor industry, the practice is politically popular. Liquor industry experts complain that universal carding is "a quick fix" that is "meaningless" to controlling sales to underaged consumers.

Universal carding requires that everyone show an ID for the purchase of alcohol. Regardless of age. Octogenarians must fork over an ID to purchase hooch.

Paul McCartney's classic Beatles tune inescapably comes to mind:

When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out 'till quarter to three, would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?
Those in the know say that universal carding takes the focus off of ensuring that folks close to the legal drinking age present valid identification. Clerks have to spend time carding people that clearly are of age, including repeat customers that clerks know.

When lines form at checkout, it is easy to understand that less time is devoted to looking at the IDs of younger purchasers. 

Adam Chafetz at TIPS, the global leader in education and training for the responsible service, sale, and consumption of alcohol, observes that:

Today's extremist attitudes on the part of liquor boards about underage drinking have created environments where these kinds of meaningless practices abound. Add political correctness to the mix and you end up carding everyone, just to be on the safe side. 

Tennessee was the first state to adopt universal carding. In 2007, Tennessee required everyone to show ID to purchase beer at markets, grocery stores and other off-premises sales. The law made national news.

Universal carding at liquor stores, and at groceries beginning in 2016, is fertile ground for Tennessee ABC citations. If a clerk fails to card, the ABC can issue a citation. The Metro Nashville Beer Board has certainly profited from universal carding for beer and we expect the ABC to see an increase in fines from universal carding.

As one loyal reader pointed out:

This law ignores common sense and places undue burden on small businesses that already understand the consequences of selling to a minor.  This bill does nothing to improve upon that and only hassles loyal customers and good operators.


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