Pismo Beach police bust suspect who bought a minor alcohol

February 21, 2024


Pismo Beach police officers busted a person who allegedly bought alcohol for a minor during a covert operation police conducted last week in Pismo Beach. 

On Feb. 13, Pismo Beach police officers and California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agents conducted a shoulder tap operation in the South County city. The operation resulted in one arrest for furnishing alcoholic beverages to a minor, according to the Pismo Beach Police Department. 

Shoulder tap operations target adults who purchase alcohol for individuals under the age of 21. During the operations, minors under the supervision of law enforcement stand outside of a liquor or convenience store and ask customers to buy them alcohol. The minors also disclose they are underage and cannot purchase alcohol. 

Adults who agree to purchase alcohol for the underage person can be arrested and cited for furnishing alcohol to a minor. The penalty for the offense is a minimum $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service. 

“Underage drinking harms our community,” Pismo Beach Sergeant Hernandez said. “Preventing the sale of alcohol to minors will help to increase public safety and make our roads safer.” 

Police say statistics have shown that individuals under the age of 21 have a much higher risk of being involved in a car crash than older drivers. Underage drinking factors into about 25% of fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Pismo Beach Police Department received funding for the shoulder tap operation from an ABC Alcohol Police Partnership Program grant. 

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If an teenager driving under the influence of alcohol injures or kills someone, the adult who supplied alcohol to the minor should also be charged.

The California Dept of Alcoholic Beverage Control has a program to investigate and prosecute exactly what you describe. They call it the TRACE program. As you say, adults supplying alcohol to juveniles are regarded by the law as complicit in any injuries/deaths caused by the intoxicated juvenile’s actions and are held criminally liable for enabling the drunken behavior and resultant damages.

This is a good program designed to protect children and the community. Any adult who is dumb enough to buy alcohol for juveniles unknown to them and unsupervised by them is not only engaged in very risky, unwise and irresponsible personal behavior, they are enabling more of the same in the child in addition to fostering unhealthy behavior and delinquency. Adults caught in the act of “booze grooming” of minors deserve serious consequences.

So does the adult actually have to buy the alcohol and attempt to give it to the minor, or is just saying you would do it enough? What if the adults says yes, takes the money and then leaves or uses the money to buy themselves something, (non-alcoholic)? Just saying you would do it but not actually doing it doesn’t seem like a crime, or are we now charging people with thought crimes?

The complete transaction and transfer of alcohol to the minor by the adult has to take place in order to affect an arrest. No one is getting arrested for simply saying “sure kid, I’ll buy you the alcohol you want”, or for any other related “thought crimes”.

I fully support enforcement of legal age for liquor purchase. But, isn’t using a supervised minor entrapment and having the minor ask for alcohol purchase also breaking the law. I think it best to rely upon store clerk to police the legal purchase of alcohol.

It seems improper for law enforcement, or their agent, to invite you to do a crime and then arrest you for it. I know “entrapment” requires conduct that induces an otherwise law abiding citizen to commit a crime, so there are some nuances, but this just seems wrong.

Mom would buy us a Quart of Beer for $.88 BUT, We could not leave the yard if we drank. We’d all give a dollar a piece and she’d keep the change for gas money (It was the 70’s)