Tennessee tackled one of the biggest issues for carding minors over two decades ago.  Tennessee was on the forefront of states requiring that drivers licenses be plainly marked “Under 21″ if the person was under the age of 21.  TCA 55-50-334.

Problem is, the ID law has a broad loophole: “Upon attaining the age of twenty-one (21) years, any licensee may obtain a license without the letters, words and numbers required above by paying the fee for a duplicate license. However, no person shall be required to obtain the duplicate license, until the license expires.”

An “Under 21″ ID in Tennessee can be valid for up to five years after the person turns 21.

Instead of being an easy fix for servers, the “Under 21″ ID has become a trap.  Because so many people older than 20 have “Under 21″ IDs, many servers are so accustomed to the IDs that they presume the person must be old enough to drink.

New Tennessee legislation appears ready to increase the problem by three years.  SB209 is headed for the Governor’s desk, making Tennessee drivers licenses valid for eight years.

We see SB209 as a bill with good intentions, but a significant unintended consequence for preventing sales to minors in Tennessee.  We believe that the fact that Tennessee drivers licenses are valid long after a person turns 21 is a huge reason why so many restaurants and bars in Tennessee are failing ABC compliance checks.

Reminds us of the 1988 Looney Tunes smash movie ” Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and the classic line from Jessica Rabbit:

“I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”

We have been blogging about effective carding strategies in Tennessee and encourage folks to focus on sales to minors in Tennessee.  Good operators have had liquor licenses and beer permits suspended for sales to minors.  Some are looking at devastating suspensions and revocation.  It is a real problem for the industry.