Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputies, with assistance from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, performed a decoy operation on Friday in Buellton, Solvang and the surrounding county area. Eighteen off-sale alcohol licensed businesses were checked during the operation, resulting in three citations being issued to clerks who sold alcohol to a minor; the minor worked with Sheriff’s Deputies and ABC Agents during the operation.

During the operation at each individual business, the minor, in an attempt to purchase alcohol, would show the clerk their valid California driver’s license when asked. In all three cases the clerk was presented a driver’s license by the decoy, the clerk in each case still completed the sale of the alcohol.

The three clerks who sold alcohol were issued citations – for sales of alcohol to a minor. Each clerk faces a minimum fine of $250 and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service.  In addition to the criminal citations being issued to clerks who allegedly sold the alcohol, the Alcoholic Beverage Control will be taking administrative action against the alcoholic beverage licensee. These administrative penalties may include a fine, a suspension of the alcohol license or the permanent revocation of the alcohol license.

The decoy operation is funded by a grant given to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Grant Assistance Program, or GAP. The grant includes alcohol education to the businesses and inspections of the premises and was awarded in July of 2007.

The Sheriff’s Department is thankful to the 15 locations that refused to sell an alcoholic beverage to the minor.  Decoy operations such as this one are helpful, officials say, in identifying premises that are not following safe and legal practices in accordance with their alcohol licensing.