Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 3:10 am | Fair 53º

 
 
 
 

Local News

Santa Maria Market Loses Alcohol License After Citations for Selling to Minors

State Alcoholic Beverage Control and Santa Maria police revoke Battles Mini Market's license Tuesday

Santa Maria police post a notice of revocation sign at Battles Mini Market on South McClelland Street on Tuesday to alert customers the business lost its license to sell alcohol. Click to view larger
Santa Maria police post a notice of revocation sign at Battles Mini Market on South McClelland Street on Tuesday to alert customers the business lost its license to sell alcohol. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A Santa Maria market cited for selling alcohol to minors three times in three years had its license yanked by the state with signs of the revocation posted on the window Tuesday.

A State Alcoholic Beverage Control representative and Santa Maria police arrived at Battles Mini Market, 1614 McClelland St., at approximately 3 p.m. Tuesday to take possession of the now-revoked license issued under the name Battles Market.

Officers then posted a sign on the front window under unlit electric beer signs alerting customers the store’s license to sell alcohol had been revoked.

The business’s license was canceled after receiving citations for selling alcohol to minors three times since 2014 during decoy operations, police Sgt. Eligio Lara said. 

“The result of the administrative action is they ended up revoking their license so that’s what we’re doing here today,” Lara said. “They are no longer allowed to sell alcohol.”

On Tuesday, authorities found alcohol in the store, but it was at the back of the refrigerator, Lara said.

“They were told by ABC and us that they have to get rid of it,” he said.  

“There shouldn’t be any alcohol there, period. And obviously they cannot sell the alcohol.”

Revocation of a license is rare. In 2015, the state revoked 33 licenses among 90,000 businesses allowed to sell alcohol, ABC spokesman John Carr said. Another 162 businesses received the penalty of having their license revocation stayed, granting time to transfer it to someone else. 

A sign posted in the window of Battles Mini Market notes the revoked license to tell alcohol. Click to view larger
A sign posted in the window of Battles Mini Market notes the revoked license to tell alcohol. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Before a license is canceled a business has an administrative hearing process to fight against the revocation, Carr added. 

The state handled 2,200 disciplinary actions in 2015, leading to 1,150 fines, he said.

Santa Maria police have received grants for several years to conduct so-called shoulder tap and minor decoy operations in the city, with to goal to reduce underage access to alcoholic beverages. 

“We’ve been fortunate that we have been getting ABC grants and that’s why it allows our unit to do these kinds of operations,” Lara said.

The Police Department learned it will receive a $50,000 grant, twice the amount of previous grants, to continue enforcement efforts.

Operations target both on-sale and off-sale establishments since statistics show youths have a higher rate of drunken driving crashes than adults. Alcohol use also is attributed to violence, truancy and other youth problems.

But Lara said police also monitor to ensure establishments do not serve alcohol to extremely intoxicated people.

Santa Maria police and state Alcoholic Beverage Control officers seized the license for Battles Mini Mart to sell alcohol Tuesday. Click to view larger
Santa Maria police and state Alcoholic Beverage Control officers seized the license for Battles Mini Mart to sell alcohol Tuesday.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

With undercover officers supervising, Santa Maria police sent a minor — typically a teenager — to purchase alcohol. If asked, the decoy must show identification to the clerk. 

“If the clerk asks them if they’re under the age of 21, they will tell them they’re under the age of 21,” Lara said. “They are completely honest.”

The minor decoy is only allowed to lie if a store employee asked whether the teen is working for law enforcement, he said. 

When illegal sales happen, the employee is cited along with the business. Employees can face a fine up to $250 and sentence of 20 to 30 hours of community service, Lara said.

ABC offers free class to any business —stores, restaurants and wineries — selling alcohol to help train employees about responsible beverage service, Carr said. Information about the training is available on the ABC website. 

“Obviously (with) any business here in Santa Maria we want it to be successful, but we want to be successful within the law,” Lara said. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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