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Santa Clara Police Team with ABC in Operation Shoulder Tap


The Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD) has teamed with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to take part in Operation Shoulder Tap. The operation targets adults who purchase alcohol for people under the age of 21 or store clerks who supply alcohol to underage drinkers.

Underage drinking harms our community. Preventing the sale of alcohol to minors will help to increase public safety and make our roads safer,” said Police Chief Pat Nikolai.

On Feb. 6, ABC arrested three people in Santa Clara for furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors. According to agents, a minor under the “direct supervision of law enforcement,” stood outside a liquor or convenience store and asked customers to buy them alcohol. The minor is clear that they are underage and cannot purchase alcohol.


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

“We conduct these operations to keep alcohol out of the hands of our youth,” said ABC Director Joseph McCullough. “By preventing underage drinking, we can increase the quality of life in our communities and reduce DUIs.”

On Jan. 5, SCPD officers cited three clerks for selling alcohol to minors. Clerks who sell alcohol to a minor faces a minimum fine of $250 and 24 to 32 hours of community service for the first violation. The ABC also has the option of taking away the alcoholic beverage license of any business where alcohol was sold to a minor.

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 the Operation Shoulder Tap program was provided by a grant from ABC through the department’s Alcohol Policing Partnership (APP) program.

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