December is a busy time for Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents as they work to keep alcoholic beverages from underage drinkers and those who have already had too much.
ABC agents cited 21 people in Petaluma December 3 through 6 for selling or serving alcohol to a minor. With an underage decoy, agents visited 76 establishments, in 21 cases, the decoy was able to purchase or be served alcohol. The employees who violated the law were cited with a misdemeanor.
In addition to using an underage decoy, ABC agents also used a "drunk" decoy in Escondido. Agents worked with the San Diego Sheriff's Department and Escondido police officers using an undercover officer who, although sober, acted drunk and smelled of alcohol. The undercover officer attempted to purchase alcohol at eight different stores. Despite his slurred speech, stumbling and clumsy, drunken behavior, clerks at five of the stores sold him alcohol. In California, it is a misdemeanor to sell alcohol to someone who is obviously drunk. While no enforcement action was taken, agents used the opportunity to educate clerks and business owners.
Also this month, ABC posted a 30 day Notice of Suspension at the Testa Vineyards in Ukiah for violating alcoholic beverage control laws. In mid-September 2013, the ABC Santa Rosa District Office received an official police report from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office regarding an incident that took place at Testa Vineyards in Ukiah on September 8, 2013.
After responding to the winery location for a call for service, the responding Sheriff’s deputy was met by a co-owner who was found to be highly intoxicated and was demanding the deputy leave the property. The owner resisted arrest and also committed battery against the responding deputy, forcing him to call for assistance from surrounding law enforcement agencies to deal with the hostile and intoxicated licensee, hostile patrons, and escalating circumstances. At least one patron on the premises was also found to be intoxicated.
On December 3, 2013, ABC decided to suspend the license and place the licensed business on probation for two years. If during the two-year period additional cause for discipline arises, the license could be revoked permanently.
Testa Vineyards cannot sell or serve alcoholic beverages for the 30-day suspension period that began on December 12, 2013.
"It is important year-round to enforce alcoholic beverage control laws in order to protect the public," said Alan Barcelona, president of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association which represents ABC agents. "During the holiday season it becomes even that much more important because of the numbers of people out celebrating. We hope that Californians celebrated safely and responsibly and enjoy the holiday season."