Age Verification / Checking IDs

Company Policies

Some retailers in Texas have policies requiring that customers provide proof of age for all alcoholic beverage purchases, regardless of the age of the customer.

There are some other retailers in Texas that will only accept a Texas Driver's License or Texas Identification Card as “valid identification” to purchase alcoholic beverages.

Some retailers will insist that everyone in a group show proof that they are 21 or over when anyone in the group is attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages. This is an attempt to prevent adults from illegally providing alcohol to minors.

These are internal company policies and are more strict than what state law requires. However, these establishments have the legal right to insist on proof of age for alcohol purchases.

State Law

Texas state law does not require that a person over 21 provide any identification to purchase alcohol in Texas. There is nothing in the law that declares specific forms of ID as “valid” for an alcohol purchase.

However, a person who sells a minor an alcoholic beverage does NOT commit an offense if the minor falsely represents himself to be 21 years old or older by displaying an apparently valid proof of identification that:

  • contains a physical description and photograph consistent with the minor's appearance;
  • purports to establish that the minor is 21 years of age or older; and
  • was issued by a governmental agency.

The proof of identification may include a driver's license issued by any state, a U.S. passport, a military identification card or any other ID issued by a state or the federal government.

For that reason, since store clerks, wait staff, and bartenders can be held criminally liable for selling alcohol to a minor, they often require a photo ID issued by a governmental agency, to prove that the person really is 21.

A store, bar or restaurant might or might not sell alcohol to a person with an expired driver's license, a foreign passport or other ID. What's acceptable in any establishment is a matter of that establishment's private business policies.

If the patron is obviously over 21, the establishment may not require any ID at all.

What About Cigarettes?

Unlike alcohol, state and federal law says that anyone under 27 must show identification before purchasing cigarettes. Also different from alcohol, state law provides a statutory defense to the charge of selling cigarettes to someone under 18 when the buyer presented to the defendant apparently valid proof of identification issued by a governmental agency (including a military ID, passport, or out-of-state driver's license). TABC does not regulate the sale of cigarettes, and any further questions regarding tobacco should be directed to the Office of the State Comptroller.