ENCINITAS (CBS 8) - Undercover deputies pretending to be drunk went all out to target some liquor stores in the North County on Friday, and most of them failed.
Although it's a misdemeanor to serve or sell alcohol to an obviously intoxicated customer, an deputy decoy who was made to appear and smell excessively inebriated as part of an undercover Sheriff's Department operation showed that many store clerks need to be schooled in this law.
After being sprayed down with alcohol and then sent into store after store, an undercover sheriff's deputy -- posing as an obviously intoxicated customer - had no problem scoring his booze.
"He smells like alcohol, he's slurring his speech, he has poor physical coordination," said Lt. Glenn Giannantonio of the Encinitas Sheriff's Department.
Despite the decoy's undeniably drunk demeanor, at eight out of ten stores targeted in this undercover operation, cashiers completed the sale with no questions asked.
While no citations were issued during the operation because the deputy was not actually intoxicated, deputies immediately returned to each store to provide some on-the-spot training to some caught-off-guard clerks.
Afterward, one store clerk said she appreciated the lesson.
"I didn't really notice him when he came in," said 7-11 employee Leslie Hernandes. "I should have paid more attention to that."
At one point during the undercover operation, the decoy was made even more* noticeably inebriated, with the same results.
"This time we actually poured water on his pants, on his crotch area to make it appear he had urinated on himself, " Giannantonio said. "He actually brought that up to the clerk."
Despite that incontinent clue, though, the clerk still sold him the alcohol.
"Obviously, there's a lot more work to do," Giannantonio added.
In addition to the on-the-spot training deputies provided to the clerks after they sold alcohol to the decoy more in-depth follow-up training by was also offered.
The penalty for selling alcohol to an actually* intoxicated customer is a thousand dollar fine or up to six months in jail.
Friday's undercover operation was funded through a $100,000 grant to the sheriff's department provided by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.