Half a dozen San Luis Obispo businesses were busted for slinging booze to underage decoys.
On May 23, the SLO Police Department and the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) conducted a compliance check operation in which a minor attempted to purchase alcohol from 11 bars and restaurants throughout the city. Six of the 11 businesses reportedly failed to correctly check the minor decoy’s identification before selling alcohol.
Frog & Peach, The Shack, Pappy McGregor’s Bar and Grill, Vallarta’s Mexican Food, The Village Host, and Laguna Grill were all cited for selling to the decoy.
Bartenders who sold alcohol to the minor face a fine of up to $250 and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. The ABC may also take administrative action against the businesses’ alcohol licenses that may include a fine, a suspension of the liquor license, or a permanent revocation of the license.
According to SLOPD Capt. Chris Staley, the minor decoys were honest about their ages and used their own identifications, which clearly stated that they were under the legal drinking age.
While a 50-percent bust rate may seem like a successful crackdown, Staley views the statistic as a failure.
“I wouldn’t label it a success,” he said of the minor decoy operation. “When you have more than half of [the businesses] fail, it’s not successful. It would be a success if zero had sold to minors.”
Staley added that when the program first began, the violation rate of businesses selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. But when conducted on a routine basis, the rate dropped to as low as 10 percent.
Funding for the program came through the ABC Grant Assistance Program.
In another operation last October, 21 businesses were checked for compliance and eight sold to the decoy.