Press release from the Eureka Police Department:

The Eureka Police Department along with agents of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) conducted minor decoy operations resulting in no citations for selling alcohol to minors on February 19, 2024. The actions were the result of a Minor Decoy operation in which minors under the direct supervision of department agents, attempted to purchase alcohol from 11 retail licensees in Eureka.

Clerk who sell to a minor face a minimum fine of $250, and 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC may take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, suspension, or the permanent revocation of the license.

“Conducting these operations helps us increase public safety as well as reduce underage drinking.” said Chief Brian Stephens.

“Businesses should always check IDs before selling alcohol,” said ABC Director Joseph McCullough. “Preventing access to people not old enough to legally purchase alcohol improves safety on our roadways and in our communities.”

Statistics have shown that young people under the age of 21 have a much higher risk of being involved in a crash than older drivers. About 25 percent of fatal crashes involve underage drinking according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980s. When the program first began, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. When conducted on a routine basis, the rate has dropped to below 10 percent in some cities. 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 this program was provided by a grant from ABC through the department’s Alcohol Policing Partnership (APP) program.