By Ray Sweeney, Acting Chief of Police
June 9, 2021 (La Mesa) -- Agents of the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), along with the La Mesa Police Department, cited 3 clerks for selling alcohol to minors on June 4, 2021. The actions were the result of a minor decoy operation in which minors, under the direct supervision of department agents, attempted to purchase alcohol from 16 retail licensees in the City of La Mesa.
Those who sold to the minor face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC will 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 of the license, or the permanent revocation of the license.
ABC is conducting the 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.
Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980’s. 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 as low as 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.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) through the department’s Grant Assistance Program.
ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.