TABC Announces Statewide Spring Break sting operations

HARLINGEN — It will be all hands on deck for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s effort to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors during Spring Break.

“Anytime a single minor can purchase alcohol could be a danger to public safety,” said Chris Porter, TABC public information officer.

Porter said 20 to 30 TABC undercover officers will be on South Padre Island conducting inspections to make sure alcohol is not being sold to minors.

“Overall, Texas is doing a great job in keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors,” Porter said. “It’s better for the businesses not to get entangled with the law or the TABC.”

He said TABC has met with retailers on the Island to prevent these types of violations.

But as Texans from across the state flock to the Gulf Coast for Spring Break, agents from the TABC will be conducting a series of undercover operations intended to curtail sales of alcohol to persons under 21.

The undercover operations — dubbed “minor stings” — will take place over the next two weeks at retailers located along popular travel corridors between major Texas cities and the Gulf Coast.

During the operation, undercover TABC agents will accompany a minor-aged volunteer who will attempt to purchase alcohol. Retailers who sell alcohol to the underage person could face possible administrative action by the TABC.

The stings will take place at establishments which sell alcohol for on-premise consumption such as bars and restaurants, and those which sell alcohol for off-premise consumption such as grocery or convenience stores.

During the 2016 Spring Break undercover operations, TABC agents visited 1,488 retailers and found more than 92 per-cent to be in full compliance with the law. Agency officials say the operations are intended to remind alcohol retailers of their responsibility to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.

“We’re fortunate that most Texas retailers are already choosing to comply with state law,” said Robert Saenz, TABC Field Operations executive chief.

He said at the same time, these undercover operations help them identify those few businesses that are in violation and bring them back into compliance.

“This operation is intended to remind businesses across the state about the importance of protecting their customers from the dangers of underage alcohol consumption,” Saenz said.

By the Numbers

“Minor sting” operations in 2016, statewide

– 516 operations

– 43 violations

On-premise sting operations (bars, clubs, restaurants)

-158 operations

-15 violations

Off-premise sting operations (stores, gas station, drive-throughs)

– 358 operations

– 28 violations

Source: Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission