Visalia bars caught selling alcohol to minors


The undercover investigations are being paid for by state grants and seem to be helping officers combat the problem.

During the weekend, many of Visalia's bars and restaurants are busy at night. On Friday, Visalia Brewing Company was cited by the Alcohol Beverage Control for selling alcohol to minors. The illegal act was part of a Visalia Police Department undercover operation paid for with the help of $50,000 state grant.

Lt. Steve Phillips said, "What we're looking at is trying to keep down our calls for service at some establishments that are normally higher than any other place."

Officers send in teenagers who are 18 or 19-years-old to see if they're ID'd by bar staff and served alcohol. Investigators say underage drinking is a big problem, and they hope the stings will make a difference.

Lt. Steve Phillips added, "There's a lot of lives lost form people who are drinking and driving getting in accidents get arrested get DUIs so we're trying to prevent that from happening and it's also state law."

Visalia Brewing Company was the second bar in several weeks that was cited by authorities. Just last month Santa Fe Station was caught selling alcohol to minors. Both businesses refused to comment about the incidents to Action News. Bartenders at Downtown Rookies Sports Bar and Grill say they have a strict carding policy.

"At the front door, two guys at the back door," said Bartender Cameron Barker. "Only a valid ID will get you in, if you don't look like the picture or the ID is expired or bent then you don't get in."

Barker says their strict carding rules aren't out of fear of being caught, but to create a safe environment for customers and follow the law.

"It's a shame and I'm sure some of the businesses that got hit it wasn't their intention to serve a minor but the decoys are out there to try and get in, it is a possibility," said Barker.

Both bars that were caught selling alcohol to minors were cited and have to pay a fine.

Police say they will perform more undercover operations this year. They hope to continue the program next year.

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