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How to card minors for alcohol sales in Tennessee

Sep 24, 2020

We have seen a steady uptick in citations for sales to minors from the Tennessee ABC and beer boards across the state. We encourage folks to re-focus training efforts on carding and to adopt the program we call “Red Box ID.” 

Here are two samples of Tennessee under 21 drivers licenses.

Image title

Image title

Under 21 drivers licenses have a big red box around the photo - hence the name “Red Box ID.” 

Problem is, Red Box IDs have a defect. The licenses do not expire when the driver turns 21. Under 21 licenses with Red Box ID can be valid for years after the driver turns 21. 

Red Box Carding.

The good news is that Red Box IDs do not require math for carding.

The date the person turns 21 is written in the red box around the photograph. In the first sample, Nick turns 21 on 02/11/2021.

Viola - no math!  Don’t serve Nick.

Law enforcement almost universally uses real Tennessee drivers licenses in sale to minor stings.  In all likelihood, your server or clerk will be presented a Red Box ID when the ABC or Beer Board visits.

Make sure your staff is properly trained to focus on Red Box IDs - read the date in the red box.

Ask the customer’s age. 

We also recommend that servers, bartenders and clerks ask the guest “How old are you?”

Undercover officers, such as an ABC agent, may avoid answering the question. It is unlikely that the officer will lie. Ask the question again, if the person is evasive. Refuse the sale if the person will not tell the correct age.

Secondary card

Do not allow staff to sell to anyone with a Red Box ID.  Although servers, bartenders and clerks should card the patron, consider requiring a manager or senior staff member approve all sales involving Red Box ID. 

Double-checking the ID for under 21 drivers licenses significantly decreases the chance that an establishment will serve a minor. This includes confidential informants acting on behalf of the ABC, beer boards or police.

ABC enforcement

The ABC has recently begun issuing administrative citations to servers and cashiers that fail age compliance checks.  The ABC has been fining servers and cashiers $250.

The ABC reported at the September meeting that 16 servers had been fined $250.

We welcome this change in policy.  Business owners are strictly liable for sales to minors.  Placing more responsibility on the server or cashier puts more significance on the need to effectively card.  All too often, we see a terminated staff member walk across the street to get rehired at a competitor, while the business owner is paying expensive fines or serving a suspension of its beer permit or ABC liquor license.

ABC law enforcement reported 130 minor compliance checks and 28 citations for sales to minors at the September ABC meeting. This also reflects a 78% passage rate, industry-wide. The following were reported per license:


92 LBD

20 sold

78% passage rate


18 liquor stores

7 sold

61% passage rate


20 WIGS

1 sold

98% passage rate


ABC law enforcement reported 130 minor compliance checks and 28 citations for sales to minors at the September ABC meeting. This also reflects a 78% passage rate, industry-wide. The following were reported per license:


92 LBD

20 sold

78% passage rate


18 liquor stores

7 sold

61% passage rate


20 WIGS

1 sold

98% passage rate


The ABC has also been targeting curbside sales by restaurants and bars. So far, we have not heard of any delivery compliance checks, but suspect we will see delivery citations forthwith.

All this law enforcement makes us think of Officer by The Pharcyde:

Oh please don't pull me over officer please

I'm discombobulated (What)

Discombobulated (What)

Discombobulated malfunctioned faded

F-a-d-e-d

I can't believe it's me

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