California: 335 arrested, cited during underage drinking operation

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

California: 335 arrested, cited during underage drinking operation

The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service.


March 10, 2019

Agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Officers from over 70 local Police and Sheriff’s Departments arrested or cited 335 people during a statewide underage drinking enforcement operation.

“Unfortunately over 4,000 young people die in alcohol-related tragedies every year in this country,” said ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith. “This collaborative effort among California peace officers creates awareness to underage drinking issues, increases public safety for communities and also boosts protections for California’s young people.”

The goal of the operation was to raise awareness about the dangers of underage drinking and also make it clear to any adults who buy alcohol for minors that there are serious consequences.

ABC agents and local law enforcement conducted a program called the “Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation”. 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 and purchase alcohol for the minor, officers then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service.

The program is intended to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors.


As of March 9, the operation resulted in the citation of 305 people who allegedly bought alcoholic beverages for minors. 13 others were cited for open containers and 17 people were either cited or taken into custody for various crimes such as outstanding warrants, illegal drugs, public drunkenness or DUI, it included one person who was on parole for murder. 


In 2018 ABC Agents cited or arrested more than 3,200 people, with 1,800 of those arrests made for underage drinking violations.

On average, approximately one in ten individuals approached during a Shoulder Tap Operation illegally purchased alcohol for a minor, ABC said. 

Here are the numbers of arrests and citations in each of the previous seven years:

2012 – 430

2013 – 506

2014 – 544

2015 – 432

2016 – 432

2017 – 447

2018 – 364 


Raising awareness about the dangers of underage drinking. Over 4,000 young people under the age of 21 die in the U.S. every year in DUI crashes, from alcohol poisonings and other incidents involving alcohol. 

The timing of this operation is strategic, it happens just before St. Patrick’s Day weekend when many celebrations involving alcohol occur. 

Parents and young people need to talk ahead of time about how underage individuals can avoid consuming alcohol at large parties or gatherings where alcohol is present.

ABC and law enforcement officials are asking the community to map out a plan prior to St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Adults should have a plan to get home safely from celebrations involving alcohol, ABC said, urging people to use public transportation, taxi services or determine who will be the designated driver.