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Underage Drinking Sting Nets Hundreds in California

The news is filled these days with statistics on crime. It is also filled with misstatements about whether crime is on the increase or on the decline in states and cities across the nation.

Some folks appear to be sticking to their claim that violent crime us up everywhere, largely due to immigrants and not having enough police officers to combat the violence. Well, there’s certainly not much support for the argument that immigrants are causing an uptick in violent crime. Indeed, in our blog article last month (“Fact Gap on Trump’s Crime and Immigration Claims”), we pointed out that so-called “sanctuary cities” actually have less crime than other cities.

All of which brings us to the recent sting in California in an effort to nab adults who buy alcoholic beverages for minors. Please don’t misunderstand: We recognize that underage drinking is a problem, both in terms of DUI and overall health. And supplying liquor, wine or beer to a minor is a misdemeanor (BPC 25658). But law enforcement, like most other things, is all about priorities.

We don’t know the exact extent of the problem of adults furnishing alcohol to minors. People will refer to instances of underage drinking and driving, minors in possession, and similar issues, but many – perhaps most – of the minors obtain their booze from their parents, or from the parents of their friends. And while you might expect that there would be a push to arrest strangers who are buying booze for kids, few of us would have thought that push would be as extensive and expensive as a recent state-wide action in California.

From what we can gather from news reports, it appears that a sting was organized on a statewide level earlier this month. It involved hundreds of law enforcement agencies, including municipal police departments, county sheriff’s departments, and agents and deputies from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The cops used minors to approach people outside liquor stores and convenience stores to ask customers to buy alcohol. Over 400 people were arrested throughout the state. We don’t know how many of those arrested will be convicted of anything, let alone what they were cited for.

So let’s see: Thousands of officers, tens of thousands of hours spent, and probably many millions of dollars in overall expenses….All to combat a problem, the extent of which is largely unknown. Sure, it’s a good cause; none of us want to see liquor in the hands of minors. But in these days of limited resources, it’s a question of where you want your dollars spent.

Law Office of David P. Shapiro
3500 5th Avenue, Suite 304,
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-3555

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