If you have any question that young people under the age of 21 can walk into a store and purchase alcohol, just look at the undercover operations in Contra Costa County last month.
The California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff conducted three decoy operations at businesses that sell alcohol and under the watchful eye of ABC agents and sheriff's deputies, the underage decoy was able to purchase alcohol 17 times. In addition, the decoy asked patrons to purchase alcohol and four patrons agreed to the request. All 21 individuals were arrested (cited or booked).
"It's an unfortunate reality that young people under 21 are able to access alcohol," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. ABC agents are part of CSLEA's membership of 7,000 state public safety and consumer protection professionals. "With spring break approaching our agents at ABC will, no doubt, have their hands full."
Keeping alcohol from the under-21 set is a serious task that saves lives. Under-21 drivers who have been drinking are involved in fatal crashes at twice the rate of adult drivers.
Alcohol is often a factor in injuries, homicides, suicides and car crashes - four leading causes of death of 15-to-20 year olds.
ABC agents, along with local law enforcement officers, involved in the decoy operations visit as many as 6,000 establishments a year in this state.
"Not only are we striving to keep our young people safe," said Kevin Highbaugh, ABC agent and president of the California Association of Special Investigators (CASI). CASI is an affiliate of CSLEA. "But there is a domino effect when the underage set and alcohol are involved. It's not just the underage drinkers who get hurt, but their families, their futures and innocent people who happen to cross their drunken paths. We hope that spring break is a fun, healthy, safe time away from studies, but we don't want to see lives lost or lives ruined. That's what it comes down to."