The OLCC uses minor decoy operations to ensure that licensees are vigilant about not serving alcohol to minors. The OLCC and local law enforcement use minor volunteers ages 17-20 who look under the age of 26 to attempt to buy alcohol at licensed locations. If asked for identification, the minor decoy will show their own valid Oregon identification, which indicates that they are underage. Minor decoys do not disguise their real age or encourage the sale of alcohol. Minor decoys may not lie about their age, but can be evasive in their response to direct questions. For example, if asked if they are 21 years or older, a minor decoy can say “it says it right there on my identification.”
The OLCC selects businesses for minor decoy visits on a random and targeted basis. Businesses that have a documented compliance problem may be targeted.
A typical minor decoy operation involves a single minor attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage with one or two undercover OLCC inspectors or local police officers nearby to witness the sale or non-sale, but the OLCC may use other setups (such as two minor decoys, etc.).
Licensees that fail a minor decoy operation are subject to a category III violation and need to think carefully about their options. The penalties for each successive category III violation within a two year period increases with the suggested penalty for a third involving a mandatory suspension and license cancellation for a fourth. Licensees that fail a minor decoy operation are often revisited at some point to determine if compliance is still an issue.
The OLCC just announced its latest results for Troutdale, Oregon in which seven out of nineteen licensed premisses failed. For more information about the results of recent minor decoy operations, click here.