Who Has to Card Everyone for Liquor in Tennessee?

Who Has to Card Everyone for Liquor in Tennessee?

If we had a Casey Kasem Top 40 Chart for the most popular Tennessee liquor question, this query has been sitting at number one for weeks.  Do I have to card everyone for liquor sales?

Known in the industry as universal carding, the well-intentioned law is criticized for taking the focus off preventing sales to young-appearing purchasers.  Universal carding has also become fertile ground for fining licensees for failing to card.

The Police's 1980 hit is appropriate for inappropriate reasons:

Inside her there's longing
This girl's an open page
Book marking - she's so close now
This girl is half his age
Don't stand, don't stand so
Don't stand so close to me
Several years ago, Tennessee required universal carding for off-premises sales of beer.  Universal carding was a concession to prevent local beer boards from suspending beer permits for C-Stores and groceries that enrolled in a training program.

Universal carding was part of the many trade-offs in the 2014 wine in grocery store law, which we affectionately call WIGS.  Starting July 1, 2014, all retail liquor stores in Tennessee must card everyone.  Grocery stores will have to card everyone starting July 1, 2016, when wine becomes legal in groceries.

Selling to a minor has been a Class A misdemeanor for as long as we can recall.  WIGS imposes the same criminal citation for failure to card - even failing to card a 75 year little old lady.  A criminal conviction for the sale of alcohol disqualifies the person from being an employee or owner of a license holder.

Who has to card everyone?

  • Beer - off premises (C stores, groceries, pharmacies) - Yes, card everyone

  • Beer - on premises (beer bars) - No, carding is discretionary

  • Wine and spirits off premises (liquor stores) - Yes, card everyone beginning July 1, 2014

  • Wine stores (groceries) - Yes, card everyone beginning July 1, 2016

  • Wine and spirits on premises (restaurants, bars) - No, carding is discretionary

Failure to card could be a huge source of revenue for citations by the Tennessee ABC.  Watch out.

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