Agents of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) along with Officers from the Martinez Police Department have cited 2 clerks for selling alcohol to minors and also cited 4 adults who purchased alcohol for minors during operations on November 14th and 15th, 2013. The actions were the result of a Minor Decoy Operation and Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation.
The Minor Decoy Operation involves minors who work under the direct supervision of department agents and officers. The minors attempted to purchase alcohol from 6 separate retail licensees in the City of Martinez.
Those who sold to the minor face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, a suspension of the license, or the permanent revocation of the license.
In addition to the Minor Decoy Operation, ABC agents and Martinez Police officers also conducted a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation.
A Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation targets adults who purchase alcohol for people less than 21 years of age. Under the program, a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer will stand outside a liquor or convenience store and ask patrons to buy them alcohol.
The minor indicates in some way he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol. If the adults agree to purchase alcohol for the minor, officers then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service.
ABC is conducting the compliance checks statewide to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors. Statistics have shown that young people under the age of 21 have a higher rate of drunken driving fatalities than the general adult population.
Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980’s. When the program first began, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. When conducted on a routine basis, the rate has dropped in some cities as low as 10 percent or even below.
In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement to ensure that licensees are complying with the law.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) through the department’s Grant Assistance Program. ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency.