TABC sends minor in to Tyler stores to buy beer

TABC sends minor in to Tyler stores to buy beer

Tyler convenience and grocery stores were put to the test Wednesday. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission sent a minor into stores to see who's following the law. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson was the only reporter invited to ride along has more on the sting.

It's been more than three months since beer and wine hit store shelves in Tyler and so far it looks like clerks are following the law. TABC checked in on 15 stores Wednesday afternoon and their minor didn't get away with buying any beer.

"No sale" was theme of the day on the TABC radio as three unmarked cars sent a 16-year-old girl into 15 stores to try to buy alcohol.

Those two words are also music to the ears of mom Stephanie Terral of Tyler, who stood in front of the minor at one of the stores. "There was a older lady and she came up and there was a younger lady at the register and she just said 'I'm sure they'd have to ID you because you don't look like you're in your 20s' and the girl was kind there, looked kinda looked offended to me."

But no amount of offense would matter to the store clerk who denied the minor's attempt to buy.

"For our kids we're glad that they're, they are IDing," Terral added.
The minor used her real drivers license and was escorted by two undercover TABC agents for each stop. Just a radio call away, TABC Sergeant Marcus Stokke and CBS 19 waited for results.

"A day like this is good for the stores, it's good for us," Sgt. Stokke explained. "It makes everyone look like they're doing their job and the community is safer." 

Sgt. Stokke said the stores were picked at random, but not their minor. "We used a minor that's youthful looking, that there should not be any mistake so where there is it kind of makes us take a second look and say ok, who's dropping the ball?" 

And while the stores came away clean, not every customer was as law-abiding as Terral. This was overheard on the radio as we waited outside Walmart off Hwy. 64: "No sale, but the lady said she'd get her boyfriend to buy it for her."

The minor denied that offer and the sting went on, but Terral said she hopes there's more stings for safety's sake. "We've lost too many lives definitely from drunk drivers or younger kids drinking." 

TABC's focus Wednesday was the stores themselves, so the person who made that offer was not pursued. But agents said the biggest challenge with minors is older friends or friends parents buying their alcohol.

Selling to a minor is a Class A Misdemeanor where people face up to a year in the county jail and/ or up to a $4,000 fine.

This was the first sting of it's kind since Tyler began selling beer and wine. TABC said there will be more stings in the future,  but the dates and the stores will be kept secret.


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