“By conducting these operations, agents and deputies are working to educate the public as well as those who serve/sell alcohol. Keeping alcohol from those under 21 years of age works to keep all of us safer out on the roads and helps to keep our youth safer from alcohol related incidents and crimes.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
RIVERSIDE COUNTY - On September 17, 2022, deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, along with agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) conducted a Minor Decoy Operation and Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation in Lake Elsinore and Wildomar. As a result of the operations, one store clerk in Lake Elsinore was cited for selling alcohol to minors and two adults who purchased alcohol for minors at a business were cited.
During the Minor Decoy Operation, decoys under the age of 21, under the direct supervision of deputies and agents, attempted to purchase alcohol from seven retail licensees in the cities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar.
Those who sell alcohol to someone under 21 face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC may take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, a suspension, or the permanent revocation of the license.
In addition to the Minor Decoy Operation, deputies and ABC agents also conducted a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation. A Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation targets adults who purchase alcohol for people less than 21 years of age. Under the program, a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer will stand outside a liquor or convenience store and ask patrons to buy them alcohol. The minor indicates in some way he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol. If the adults agree to purchase alcohol for the minor, agents then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service.
ABC and local law enforcement conduct compliance checks statewide to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors. Statistics have shown that young people under the age of 21 have a higher rate of drunken driving fatalities than the general adult population. About 25 percent of alcohol-related crashes involve underage drinking according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980s. When the program first began, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. When conducted on a routine basis, the rate has dropped in some cities to 10 percent or even below. In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement to ensure that licensees are complying with the law.