Sadly, just hours into the new year, a young woman was killed in a solo-vehicle crash driven by a suspected drunk driver in Oakland. Immediately, California Alcoholic Beverage Control agents were called in to open a "Target Responsibility for Alcohol-Connected Emergencies" (TRACE) investigation. Agents will work to determine where the under-21-year-old driver obtained alcohol.
"So many of our ABC agents were away from their families New Year's Eve and working at venues to prevent tragedies such as the one in Oakland," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. "There's no telling how many lives they saved by keeping alcohol away from those under-21. The fatal accident in Oakland only highlights the dangers of DUI and under-age drinking. Finding the person who provided or sold the alcohol to the young , suspected drunk driver is a vital part of enforcing Alcoholic Beverage Control laws and providing some justice and closer to the victim's family."
The crash happened just before 3:30 a.m. New Year's Day. Kayla Turner, 20, of San Jose was killed when the car she was a passenger in, crashed on Interstate 580 in Oakland. The driver, Travis Maresca, 20 of Livermore allegedly lost control of the car and hit a pole. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI and vehicular manslaughter charges.
In addition to this case, ABC agents have already posted at least two Notices Of Suspension at outlets that sell alcohol for suspected ABC violations.
On Thursday, January 8, 2015, agents posted a 30-day Notice of Suspension at the Gestalt Haus bar in San Francisco after a four month investigation in which undercover agents caught an employee selling marijuana to a customer.
Also on Thursday, January 8, 2015, agents posted a 20-day Notice of Suspension at the Gold Street Liquor store in Redding after undercover agents discovered the store was selling glass vials that could be used as illegal drug paraphernalia. While it is not illegal to sell the vials as, say, air fresheners, agents were allegedly given instructions on how to use the vial as a crack pipe.
Both establishments are prohibited from selling alcohol for the term of their suspension and will be placed on probation.
"California ABC agents play a huge role in the safety of Californians by conducting undercover investigations at establishments that sell alcohol," said Kevin Highbaugh, president of the CSLEA affiliate California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA). "We work days, nights, weekends and holidays so that clerks and servers in California aren't selling alcohol to the overly intoxicated or those under 21. We make drug busts, partner with local law enforcement officers who need assistance with gangs, illegal gambling or neighborhood crime. And we investigate where minors who were under the influence and involved in violent crimes or accidents got their alcoholic beverages. Given the number of establishments that sell alcohol in this state, to say there are not enough ABC agents to go around, is an understatement."