“These operations in which decoys under the age of 21 attempt to purchase alcohol, or have someone purchase it for them, work to educate the public, as well as store clerks. This law enforcement work helps to protect our young people and the public and we thank the ABC agents and local law enforcement officers for conducting these operations.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
LAKE ELSINORE - On October 22, 2022, agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department conducted a Minor Decoy Operation and Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation in the city of Lake Elsinore. The operation resulted in one citation of a store clerk for furnishing alcohol to someone under 21 years of age and two citations for adults who furnished alcohol to someone under 21.
In the Minor Decoy Operation, a decoy under the age of 21 and under the direct supervision of deputies and agents attempted to purchase alcohol from six retail licensees in the city of Lake Elsinore. The clerk who sold to the underage decoy faces 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 the alcohol was sold to the decoy.
In the Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation, the underage decoy stood outside a liquor or convenience store and asked patrons to buy alcohol. The decoy indicates that he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol. If adults purchase alcohol for the decoy, agents then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to someone under 21. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1,000 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.