On February 5th, 2013

When Minors Drink & Crash —- ABC Agents Step In

CHP  officers in the Santa Cruz area are reporting a spike in underage DUI arrests over the Super Bowl weekend and those who supplied booze to those young drivers could find themselves in some big trouble.

One of those underage drivers slammed his car into a home near Watsonville.  His girlfriend and his two toddlers, ages 1 and 2, were inside the vehicle.  A 47-year-old woman was inside the home, she became trapped under the car and a piece of furniture upon impact.

According to reports, the 20 year old driver was speeding and his blood alcohol level was about twice the legal limit.  He now faces DUI and child endangerment charges. 

A case like this is often referred to our California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) members who are agents with Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

"As part of ABC's TRACE program, ABC is notified when a major incident involving someone under 21 and alcohol happens," said Kevin Highbaugh.  Highbaugh is an ABC agent and president of the California Association of State Investigators (CASI), an affiliate of CSLEA.  "ABC agents will investigate and ultimately find out where that young person, underage, bought, acquired or was served alcoholic beverages.  What follows are administrative and/or criminal charges."

In addition to the crash involving the 20 year old suspected of driving under the influence, CHP officers in the Santa Cruz area report the arrest of four other underage people suspected of DUI.   "It's more underage DUI activity than we typically see in a weekend," Officer Sarah Jackson is quoted in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_22518904/aptos-chp-reports-five-dui-arrests-young-people). "This is not something we haven't dealt with before,  but five in one weekend is excessive."

"Our CSLEA members who are agents with ABC work days, nights and weekends to combat underage drinking.  Not only because it is against the law, but so many things can go wrong, including the death of somebody," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona.  "Those agents, and there are just a few of them, who investigate major incidents to get to the bottom of who supplied alcohol to the minor, don't give up.   They often deal with grieving parents and family members who are counting on them for answers, for justice and for closure."

A May 2008 ABC video demonstrates how ABC agents & TRACE solve a case.

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