Local

Visalia PD cracks down on underage drinking

Monday, May 20, 2013

Authorities in the South Valley are cracking down on bars selling alcohol to people under 21.

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-thousand dollar state grant.

"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," said Lt. Steve Phillips, Visalia Police Department.

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

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

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 business 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. Valid ID's only get you in, if you don't look like the picture, or the ID is expired or bent, then you don't get in," said Cameron Barker, bartender.

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."

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visalia, tulare county, local, jessica peres
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