TABC often overreaches, needs to be restructured

In 2007, students from all over the world looked forward to continuing their education at TCU.

Last fall, 7,382 students enrolled at TCU as undergraduates; 1,698 of those students were from out of state.

Now we all know that to be a successful and happy student at TCU you don’t just need good grades. You need to experience life and the city with your new friends.

But for the 23 percent of those students that moved to Texas for school, experiencing life and the city is a little more complicated.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has been tasked with enforcing the Alcoholic Beverage Code, which states: “The TABC shall inspect, supervise, and regulate every phase of the business of manufacturing, importing, exporting, transporting, storing, selling, advertising, labeling, and distributing alcoholic beverages, and the possession of alcoholic beverages for the purpose of sale or otherwise,” according to the TABC Web site.

That’s just an overview.

I just turned 21 so this has become a recent problem that I know the freshmen and sophomores haven’t dealt with yet, but they will.

TABC monitors alcohol from brewing to selling and everything in between, including advertising. I believe that’s pushing it. I understand the need for an organization like the TABC to exist to help local police with enforcement of liquor laws, but giving it authority over any other part of the alcohol industry is overkill.

Now what does this have to do with out-of-state TCU students?

The TABC has its hand in every part of alcohol production and consumption, and with that, it also has the authority to levee heavy fines. These fines have alcohol vendors everywhere shaking in their boots.

I went to Kroger one night to buy a bottle of wine to go with dinner. I got to the counter with my brand new ID; the checker told me Kroger’s policy was to refuse out-of-state licenses. I didn’t get my bottle of wine.

I was the last of my friends to turn 21 so we would try to find bars where we could all go to hang out. We found one – Finn MacCool’s. It’s a great bar kind of close to campus with a very relaxed atmosphere. It was perfect for us. I went there a few times while I was 20. They always carded me but they always let me in. I tried to go back after my birthday, but they wouldn’t take my license.

I must say that I have never been refused at any restaurant, the bars right next to campus or anywhere downtown. But a few bars downtown have asked to see a credit card along with my ID to make sure that I’m the right person.

Again, I agree with what TABC stands for, mostly. It can be useful in preventing accidents caused by drunken driving and selling to underage kids. But it is inconvenient to the rest of us who aren’t breaking the law.

I know a college campus is a place where – let’s face it – a lot of illegal things can happen; the least of those, in my opinion, is producing fake IDs for underage students.

But I believe that instead of just punishing vendors, TABC should provide them with ways of telling the difference between real and fake IDs.

My Ohio driver’s license has two different holograms – a photo, a watermark and a magnetic strip on the back. It’s very unlikely that I forged it.

But I have seen some state issued licenses that look faked. Illinois’ license, for instance, is rather simple.

Of course, every state has a different ID, so it would be difficult and expensive to have ways of proving the validity of every ID card. Therefore, I think that we should switch over to a universal template for our IDs.

For example, let’s say every state ID has to have a magnetic stripe on the back. Then when a person tries to purchase an age restricted substance, alcohol or tobacco, cashiers can swipe the ID and get all the information they need.

I believe that the TABC needs to be restructured; it has too much power with nothing to check them. I think that there should be lenience for alcohol vendors who set up shop near a college campus so that those of us of age from out of state can feel more welcome.

If students are of age, they should be able to go out on a Friday night to get a beer without being hassled.

Liz Davis is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Findlay, Ohio.