Tennessee Requires Stores to Check ID Card Of Anyone Buying Beer

By Lucas L. Johnson II
Associated Press
Sunday, July 1, 2007

NASHVILLE, June 30 -- Comer Wilson hasn't had to show his ID to buy beer in a while. Maybe it's the 66-year-old man's long, white beard.

Starting Sunday, gray hair won't be good enough. Wilson and everyone else will be required to show identification before buying beer in Tennessee stores -- no matter how old the buyer appears.

"It's the stupidest law I ever heard of," Wilson said. "You can see I'm over 21."

Tennessee is the first state to make universal carding mandatory, the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association said. However, the law does not apply to beer sales in bars and restaurants, and it does not cover wine and liquor.

Supporters say it keeps grocery store and convenience store clerks from having to guess a customer's age. Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said it's a good way to address the problems of underage drinking.

And the 63-year-old governor said he won't mind the extra effort to buy beer.

"I'll be very pleased when I'm carded, and, in my mind, I'll just imagine it's because I look so young," he said.

Rich Foge, executive director of the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association, said he expects there might be initial resistance from the beer-buying public. "But once people live with it for a month or two, it's going to go fine," he said. "It gets routine after a while."

Jarron Springer, president of the Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association, said he understands the law "may seem a little odd" to people who are obviously older than 21, but he said it's necessary.

"If we're going to hold clerks accountable for their actions, then there's no room for discretion," he said. "It's either all or nothing."

The blanket requirement makes it easier for stores to comply, said Steve Schmidt, spokesman for the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

"There's no need to judge whether someone looks 21, 25 or 30," he said. "It's a set, consistent standard across the entire state."

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