Visalia teens help punish stores selling booze to minors

September 19, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities in Visalia are getting help to stop some stores from selling booze to underage drinkers.

In the latest undercover sting, detectives sent underage teenagers into businesses to see if they could buy alcohol. Wednesday night, they cited three businesses for selling the minors alcohol.

The owner of "Cheaper Food and Gas" admits the clerk didn't card a teenage girl who asked to buy alcohol. Still he sold the 17-year-old the booze because he said she looked 29-years-old.

As a result, three businesses in town were cited and fined thousands of dollars, all part of a Visalia police undercover operation.

"We will send an underage individual into the store with instructions," said Sgt. Ozzie Dominguez. "This individual is properly supervised outside and we have them attempt to complete an alcoholic beverage purchase."

The minor decoy operations are one of several Visalia officers have performed this year. A few months ago they cited several bars for selling alcohol to minors. Visalia police says it's received a number state grants to try and be proactive against underage drinking and DUIs.

Sgt. Dominguez explained, "Obviously we don't want them drinking and driving we don't want them engaging in acts they wouldn't be engaging in if they weren't drinking."

Their tactics may be working. So far this year Visalia has had 270 DUIs. Compare that to prior years where the number of DUIs were in the 400s.

Officers say frequent DUI checkpoints also help to deter drunk driving.

Sgt. Chris Mclain added, "It also lets the public see we are out and that we take driving impaired seriously."

The Visalia Police Department has had 16 DUI checkpoints in the last year alone, all with the help of hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grants.

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