What to Expect When TABC is Inspecting
An establishment that sells or serves alcohol should always anticipate and be prepared for TABC inspections. This is particularly true if your location has recently been the subject of a complaint or public safety violation.
Many people don’t realize that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) is a law enforcement agency. TABC agents are licensed peace officers in the state of Texas. Although their mission is to enforce and ensure compliance with the Alcoholic Beverage Code, they have the same authority as any other peace officer to enforce all other laws in the state of Texas as well. Here are four items a TABC agent might check when they inspect your establishment:
1. Proper Signage
TABC agents will be on the lookout for violations even before entering your establishment. This includes, but is not limited to, signage, marketing, advertising, pricing, and promotions. Make sure you’re compliant regarding:
- Happy Hour;
- General posted hours; and
- Posting of licenses;
2. Have Your License or Permit Handy
This might be common sense, but the TABC agents conducting the inspection will undoubtedly check to ensure your establishment’s alcohol license or permit is valid and displayed properly. Your license/permit determines various things, like the types of alcohol you’re authorized to sell or serve and the hours you’re allowed to operate.
3. Are You Selling/Serving Legally?
While agents are at your location, they may take time to observe how employees are handling alcohol. A non-uniformed TABC agent in plain clothes might even come in first, pretending to be a normal customer, so they can observe how employees sell, serve, and handle alcohol.
Some things they’ll be on the lookout for:
- Properly checking IDs and avoiding sales and service to minors;
- Properly looking for signs of intoxication, not over-serving, and cutting people off if necessary;
- Proper storage of alcohol and disposal of empty bottles, including destruction of tax stamps.
- Signs of any illegal activity (i.e. public intoxication, drugs, human trafficking, etc.).
4. Inspection of Invoices and Tax Stamps
Tax identification stamps are stamps placed on liquor bottles upon sale to a Mixed Beverage permittee or similar entity. According to the TABC, a permittee is not allowed to possess or distribute distilled spirits that do not bear a serially numbered tax stamp from the commission.
Agents will certainly inspect your liquor bottles to ensure stamps are not forged or being reused. They’ll also likely check your invoices to ensure your inventory adequately reflects your recent purchases. This is to ensure establishments are purchasing alcohol only through a licensed distributor, as required by law.
Remember, once you finish a bottle, you need to mutilate the tax stamp. This helps show your inspector that your bar is serving within the law.
Be Prepared for Your Next Inspection by Becoming TABC Certified
Although the TABC certification course doesn’t deal much with TABC inspections, many things taught in the course will help you be prepared for an inspection. As a seller-server of alcohol, the primary thing to remember is that you play a key role in public safety. In other words, you’re an important part in keeping people safe. This means doing your part to avoid alcohol sales to minors, intoxicated people, and non-members of a private club. If you’re diligent in being a responsible and professional seller-server, you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to TABC inspections.Back to Blog