When a minor drinks, drives, and crashes, it is the job of an Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agent to find out who provided the under-21 driver with booze, and if necessary, make the bust.
Jon Ruiz, 22, of Novato, discovered that last week when ABC charged him for allegedly supplying alcohol to a group of teens prior to a violent crash last November.
The crash involved a 17-year-old boy with five passengers in his vehicle. The vehicle was travelling between 60 and 80mph, in a 25 mph residential zone in Novato, when it smashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. The teen driver admitted to drinking and smoking marijuana and pled guilty to a felony charge of driving while intoxicated, causing injuries.
The case was referred to an ABC agent assigned to ABC's Target Responsibility for Alcohol Connected Emergencies (TRACE) investigations.
"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 the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (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."
The ABC agent who worked on this particular TRACE case conducted interviews and examined evidence and determined Ruiz supplied alcohol to the group of six 17-year-olds prior to the crash.
"ABC agents work daily to keep alcoholic beverages from the hands of teenagers and those under 21," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "And, it's for the sole reason of saving lives and preventing accidents and tragedies that are associated with teen drinking."
The ABC agent investigating this case, also determined a second suspect was involved in providing alcohol to the minors. Charges against the second suspect are still pending.