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Location Inspections

TABC agents routinely inspect licensed premises and inspect or patrol other locations looking for violations of the Alcoholic Beverage Code and other state laws.

These inspection and patrol activities constitute a major portion of the TABC's overall enforcement effort and result in a substantial share of the criminal and administrative violations found by enforcement agents.

Licensed Premises

TABC regulates the alcoholic beverage industry in Texas in part by conducting inspections of licensed retail locations. The agency strives to inspect all licensed premises at least once a year.

TABC enforcement agents and auditors conduct inspections for the following purposes:

  • Unique inspections are conducted to evaluate a location that has not yet been inspected during the current fiscal year.
  • Complaint investigations are conducted to investigate a complaint.
  • Risk-based inspections are conducted at licensed locations that have been the site of public safety violations in the past 12 months. These locations are referred to as Priority Locations.
  • Other inspections may be conducted on a routine basis to facilitate other investigations or operations.

During the previous year, TABC agents conducted more than 72,000 inspections of licensed premises and visited almost 70 percent of all licensed premises in the state. In the course of these inspections, agents checked for the proper posting of licenses and required signs, looked for promotional and marketing violations, observed for intoxicated and underage customers, and verified that the alcoholic beverages sold by the establishment were authorized by the licenses or permits held and properly invoiced. They also observe for any other violations of state law that might be occurring on the premises.

Inspections, however, are far more than mere compliance checks. They are also intended to provide two-way communications between the agency and those it regulates. Licensees and their employees have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about their legal responsibilities. They also have the opportunity to discuss whatever problems they may be experiencing and to ask for help.

That help can come in various forms. As a result of a request received during an inspection, agents can arrange training opportunities, such as SAVE for Retailer classes, for the licensee and the licensee's employees. If an establishment's operators believe that their place of business is a frequent target for "wanna be" underage drinkers, agents can also schedule a future Cops In Shops or Operation Fake Out session for the establishment.

Most licensees do a good job of policing themselves. Violations are found in less than 15 percent of all inspections, and the majority of those found are minor infractions that result only in warnings. Inspections of licensed premises by TABC agents simply remind well-meaning licensees of their legal responsibilities and provide a "nudge" and the opportunity for assistance to those who need help.

Unlicensed Locations

Almost a quarter of what the TABC terms "inspections" occur away from licensed premises. These take place at unlicensed locations and are the product of violations observed during street patrols or of complaints received from the public or other police agencies concerning bootlegging, underage drinking parties, and other alcohol violations. While licensed premises are the TABC's primary focus, alcohol violations can occur anywhere, and the agency's enforcement agents will go wherever they occur.