MERCED - When California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents send someone under the age of 21 into a store or restaurant to buy alcohol and their decoy returns empty-handed, agents know their enforcement efforts are working.
“When clerks and servers check IDs and keep those under 21 from getting alcoholic beverages, our young people and our communities are safer,” said California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA) President Kevin Highbaugh. “Clerks and servers know we routinely conduct undercover stings which serves as a great motivator to be sure the person you’re selling alcohol to is 21 or older.”
On May 30, 2017, two ABC agents teamed with four Merced Police officers and targeted 15 businesses. In 14 instances, their under-21 decoy who attempted to buy alcohol was carded and turned away. Only one business, Pizza Factory, sold alcohol to the decoy.
“In a perfect world, our decoy would have been turned away at all 15 locations, but 14 out of 15 is excellent, it means employees are being vigilant about carding those they sell alcohol to,” said Highbaugh. “Keeping alcohol from those under 21 helps to keep our young people safe. We want them to have a safe, fun summer, uninjured and untouched by alcohol-related crimes and tragedies.”
According to the Merced Police Department, routinely conducting undercover stings targeting underage drinking has reduced violations that were as high as 50 percent when the program first started, to as low as 10 percent or below.
“It’s necessary work,” said Highbaugh. “We have a lot of licensees in this state. There are plenty of places and opportunities for kids to get their hands on alcohol, it’s our job to see that they don’t.”