Booze buyers pay the price
They were just trying to be “helpful,” and what they got for their trouble was a $1,000 fine.
Twenty-three adults were caught being “helpful” – providing alcohol to teens – New Year’s Eve weekend. It was all a part of “Shoulder Tap,” a program designed to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors.
A 10-member Special Operations Unit of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control joined with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and South Lake Explorers to conduct a sting operation outside local grocery and liquor stores.
The Explorers approached adults outside the stores and asked them to buy alcohol. Cmdr. Forrest Frazier, of the special operations unit, said for every one person who agreed to buy alcohol for the teens there were 15 to 18 adults who refused the request. Of the 23 cited, Frazier said the majority were men and 90 percent were from out of town.
“Some people would be reluctant at first and then agree. Some would right off the bat say, ‘No, get out of here kid.’ Others would say sure and go right in,” said Nathan Coats, 18, an explorer.
“The reason most often given for buying the alcohol was, ‘Well, I remember when I was kid, and I was just trying to be a good guy,'” Frazier said.
People caught furnishing alcohol to minors face the minimum $1,000 fine and 24 hours of community service. Frazier said the aim was to start enforcement early to keep alcohol out of minors’ hands and cut down on problems New Year’s Eve. It seemed to work. Juvenile arrests totals were very low this year and the processing center set up at the recreation hall to handle juveniles was barely used, police said.
Coats said he was surprised how easy it was to get someone to purchase.
“We’d show up at 7-Eleven and five minutes later we’d have some people getting it,” Coats said. “I don’t think they had any idea what kind of fine they were facing. I think they thought it was like a parking ticket. I definitely think the people who bought us the alcohol will never do it again.”
Frazier said over the weekend they made 32 arrests, ranging from minors in possession of alcohol to a driving under the influence. There was one arrest for possession of cocaine.
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