Undercover alcohol enforcement operation yields two arrests
–The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Alcohol Compliance Team (ACT) conducted alcohol compliance operations on the North Coast area of San Luis Obispo County on Friday, Feb. 3. The undercover enforcement activity utilized two underage decoys to regulate illegal sales of alcohol products by businesses to minors and resulted in two retail licensees selling to an underage decoy. Compliance operations focused on sixteen retailers in the Avila Beach, Los Osos, Cayucos, Cambria, and San Simeon areas.
The Alcohol Compliance Team’s enforcement focused specifically on retail licensees utilizing funding provided by a grant from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control through its Grant Assistance Program. ABC is sponsoring 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 drunk driving fatalities than the general adult population.
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 jurisdictions to 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. With two of sixteen businesses completing sales to the decoys during this operation, the illegal sales rate of 12.5-percent was established.
The two licensees that engaged in the illegal sale of an alcoholic beverage to a minor were:
1) The Pit Stop, 800 Main Street, Cambria
2) San Simeon Liquor, 431 Pico Avenue, San Simeon.
Licensee retail clerks with alcohol sales violations are issued a Notice to Appear and criminally prosecuted through the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office. The sheriff’s office report of enforcement action taken against the licensee will be forwarded to ABC for consideration of administrative action against the business.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office’s Alcohol Compliance Team (ACT) in coordination with ABC will continue grant funded countywide enforcement operations through June 30, 2017. Ongoing efforts will include underage decoy operations, shoulder tap purchase attempts, false identification detection operations, and informational retailer training. Members of the public or media with questions regarding the sheriff’s office’s alcohol compliance education and enforcement are encouraged to call (805) 781-4529.