Decoy Operations Reveal Twenty-One Percent Noncompliance for Alcohol Sales to Minors

For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sponsored by: Health and Human Services Department, Children, Youth and Families (CYF) Division

Washington County Commission on Children and Families (WCCCF) is leading an initiative to address high risk drinking among people ages 18-25, including underage, heavy and binge drinking. Washington County is one of 12 counties and nine tribes in Oregon to receive a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) via the State of Oregon’s Addictions and Mental Health (AMH) division.

Over the past 12 months, WCCCF partnered with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, Washington County Sheriff’s Office as well as law enforcement in Forest Grove/Cornelius, Beaverton, Tigard, Hillsboro and Sherwood to conduct a dozen minor decoy operations during which underage volunteers attempt to purchase alcohol, answer any questions about their age truthfully and do not use fake identification. The goal of a minor decoy program is to reduce youth access to alcohol by encouraging licensees to verify that an individual purchasing alcohol is at least 21 years of age.

Together, the law enforcement agencies conducted 12 operations that included 214 establishments such as convenience stores, grocery stores, restaurants, bars and liquor stores. Of those, 44 (21 percent) sold alcohol to the minor decoy.

Sales clerks and servers who furnish alcohol to a minor are charged with a criminal penalty. A first conviction results in a $350 fine; second conviction, $1,000; third or subsequent conviction, $1,000 fine and not less than 30 days of imprisonment (ORS 471.410).
For the noncompliant store/restaurant owner or licensee, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission may impose administrative sanctions with a maximum fine of $4,950 and a possible license suspension or revocation.

The enhanced number of minor decoy operations will continue through 2014 with the goal of achieving 100% compliance rate (no sales to youth) among Washington County establishments.  “Don’t be afraid to check everyone’s ID and scrutinize it,” advises Sergeant Steve Schaer of the Beaverton Police Department. “Otherwise you could have a criminal record.”

In addition to the minor decoy operation, WCCCF is also working with several local coalitions to prevent and disband unsafe social environments conducive to underage drinking. The groups hope to raise awareness about the dangers of binge and underage drinking, as well as discourage adults from providing alcohol for their kids and their kids’ friends.

“Many adults believe drinking is a harmless rite of passage. They may have no idea what is really happening at these underage parties,” says Rebecca Collett of WCCCF. “And even though data shows that most high school kids in Washington County are, in fact, not drinking, it’s still a serious problem with dangerous consequences.”

To learn more, contact Washington County Commission on Children and Families at 503-846-4918.

Media Contact:

Wendy Gordon, Communications Coordinator/PIO