Hollister Police and California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control agents recently cited two clerks in Hollister for selling alcohol to minors, according to authorities. 

The enforcement was the result of an April 3 sting in which minors were enlisted by officers to serve as decoys attempting to purchase alcohol from 18 licensed retailers in Hollister, says a press release from the city’s police department. 

If convicted, the clerks who sold to the minors face a minimum fine of $250 and up to 32 hours of community service for a first violation, authorities said. Furthermore, ABC could take administrative action against the retailer where the offending clerks were employed. This action could include a fine, suspension of the business’s alcohol license, or a permanent revocation of the license. 
“Conducting these operations allow us to help reduce underage drinking and increase public safety,” Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said. 

ABC Director Eric Hirata added, “Businesses should always check IDs before selling alcohol. Preventing access to people not old enough to legally purchase alcohol improves safety on our roadways and in our communities.”
Statistics have shown that people younger than 21 have a much higher risk of being involved in a crash than older drivers, says the press release. About 25% of fatal crashes involve underage drinking, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Minor decoy operations such as the April 3 sting have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980s, police added. When the program began, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was between 40-50 percent. 

When conducted on a routine basis, the rate has dropped to below 10% in some cities, authorities added. In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of minor decoys is a valid legal tool of law enforcement to make sure that licensees are complying with the law.

Funding for the program was provided by a grant from the ABC, sponsored by the Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety, says the release. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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