Press Releases

Lake Elsinore Station

Posted on: February 21, 2024

ABC Minor Decoy and Shoulder Tap Operations

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Riverside County Sheriff-Press Release

Reporting Deputy: Sergeant Carlos GarciaVilla

File # N/A

Details:

Deputies from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office along with agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) have cited one clerk for selling alcohol to minors on February 17, 2024. The actions were the result of a Minor Decoy Operation and a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation.

The Minor Decoy Operation involves minors who work under the direct supervision of deputies and agents. The minors attempted to purchase alcohol from five retail licensees in the city of Lake Elsinore.

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 or the permanent revocation of the license.

In addition to the Minor Decoy Operation, 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 conducts 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 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 Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

ABC encourages licensees to sign up for ABC’s Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) training free of charge. Licensees and their employees can take the training online.

To learn more about ABC enforcement and prevention programs that help increase public safety visit Enforcement programs and Prevention programs. ABC protects communities through programs designed to increase compliance with California’s alcoholic beverage laws.

ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

For media inquiries regarding this incident please contact the Media Information Bureau.

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