TABC stepping up fake ID inspections around UT Austin, West Campus establishments

Megan Menchaca

Editor’s note: Some last names have been omitted to protect the identity of the source. 

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has begun its annual crackdown on underage drinking.

Chris Porter, public information officer for the commission, said TABC will be working with law enforcement to identify fake IDs at popular alcohol retailers around UT and other college campuses, including bars on Sixth Street, liquor stores and convenience stores. Penalties vary case-by-case, but minors can face up to a $500 fine if convicted of possessing a fake ID.

“People who are underage who use fake IDs to obtain alcohol, not only is that against the law, but also it’s a public safety concern,” Porter said. “We don’t want young people drinking alcohol and then going out on the roads and either causing accidents … or falling victim to assault or sexual assault.”

Porter said TABC will also have minors from high schools, who volunteer through the program, attempt to purchase alcohol at these retailers. An individual can face a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail if convicted of selling alcohol to a minor.

“We’ve found over the years that alcohol retailers, particularly those in communities where colleges are located, see a much higher tempo of activity as students return to class,” Porter said. “We’re taking this time to let retailers know that even though it’s getting busy, you still have the obligation to protect the public safety by refusing sales of alcohol to minors.” 

Porter said while these operations will be conducted year-round, TABC is making concentrated efforts now to help retailers with increased business during the beginning of the school year.

“When businesses obtain their alcoholic beverage permit, they agree to basically prevent these types of sales to underage folks,” Porter said. “So we’re helping them to comply with their agreements as part of their responsibility selling alcohol in Texas.”

Theatre studies sophomore Dani Consoldane, who worked at the 7-11 on the intersection of 26th and Guadalupe Streets, said it was a popular place for anyone living near the Drag to buy alcohol. 

“We had to scan IDs (of everyone attempting to buy alcohol) on our registers and if they didn’t scan, we couldn’t sell them alcohol,” Consoldane said. “That way fake or expired IDs generally didn’t work. But if it looked alright and it scanned, we sold them alcohol.”

Carter, a UT sophomore, said he got his fake ID last year and has used it weekly at convenience stores and bars. Carter said he doesn’t use his fake ID often enough to be worried about TABC’s crackdown on them.

“I decided to get a fake because if you want to go out and drink, you have to have a fake ID, and that’s what people do here to socialize,” Carter said. “I’ve never been caught before because I look older than 21, so nobody really questions it.”

Consoldane said while she is concerned about the public health effects of underage drinking, she doesn’t think TABC’s operations will significantly affect students or convenience stores.

“A lot of people who have fake IDs paid a lot of money for them and they look very real,” Consoldane said. “If they check out in all of the areas that we’re supposed to look at, there’s really no way to tell.”