On February 21st, 2013

Busted Selling Booze To The Underage Set Why The Shoulder Tap Is So Important

Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents, along with local police officers, busted two women in the Santa Cruz area, this week, for selling alcohol to customers under 21.  The citations were issued after concern was raised about a higher than usual number of dui arrests in the Santa Cruz area involving the under-21 set super bowl weekend.

"One of those arrests involved a 20 year old who had been drinking and, according to reports, he slammed his car into a house in Watsonville.  A woman in that house was pinned under the car and a piece of furniture.  And the driver had his two toddlers in the car." said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA).  ABC agents are members of CSLEA. 

"After accidents like that, it sometimes becomes  the job of ABC agents to find out how that driver got his alcohol, but it's also important for ABC agents to routinely scout out who is selling alcohol to those under 21, whether there is a major incident or not," said Kevin Highbaugh, ABC agent and president of the California Association of State Investigators (CASI).  CASI is an affiliate of CSLEA, 

ABC agents "scout out" those who sell alcohol to people under 21 by conducting "shoulder tap" operations.   Under the watchful eyes of  ABC agents,  decoys under the age of 21 attempt to purchase alcohol.   Sometimes it is a passerby on his/her way into the store who gives in to the decoy and agrees to purchase the decoy's alcohol.   Other times, it is a clerk behind the counter who doesn't ask for identification or doesn't carefully check the identification.

This week, ABC agents issued citations to a 34 year at a Rite Aid Pharmacy in Watsonville and to a 19 year old at a discount foods store, also in Watsonville.  The two were cited for selling alcohol to minors.

"Our CSLEA members who are agents with ABC work days, nights and weekends to curb underage drinking," said Barcelona.   ”We will never know how many lives have been  saved or injuries have been  prevented as a result of the agents' work to cite those who sell or furnish alcohol to minors."

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