MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee's universal carding law allows for common sense, but most beer-sellers and their employees aren't using it.
In 2007, Tennessee took the lead as the first state to require universal carding of everyone buying beer at groceries or convenience stores. The point was to curb illegal sales to customers under 21.
But I cringe every time I see a store clerk lose a purchase -- and a customer -- who looks every bit over 50 years old, but has to leave the six-pack on the counter because he forgot his driver's license.
It turns out he didn't have to leave his beer behind.
Indeed, Tennessee's intoxicating liquors law does provide fines and potential permit suspensions or revocations for stores and employees whose failure to card results in an under-21 beer sale. But legislators amended the law in 2013 to include THIS: "...it is an exception to any criminal punishment or adverse administrative action...if the sale was made to a person who is or reasonably appears to be over fifty (50) years of age and who failed to present an acceptable form of identification."
That's right. Tennessee beer-sellers do not have to card anyone who "looks" 50 or older. It's the law.
The problem is 50 is the new 40. More than ever, people look younger than they are. Some naturally. Some with a little work (you know who you are). Beer-sellers rather ask for ID than guess your age and get it wrong -- in either direction.
So you can count on Tennessee stores to keep carding. To cover their butts.
That's why my butt will always have my wallet. With my ID.
You asked for it.