In ABC sweep, a day at the beach can turn into a bummer for some

August 4, 2003 No Comments

Angela Lau. The San Diego Union – Tribune. San Diego, Calif.: Aug 4, 2003. pg. B.1

If you are of ripe drinking age and Luis Madriz asks to see your driver’s license at the beach, you’ll probably feel flattered.

But, if you are as young as Joxune Agote, 19, your day is ruined.

Agote was cited yesterday for underage drinking in a surprise alcohol sweep at Mission and Pacific beaches.

Alcohol is allowed on the sand at Mission Beach and Pacific Beach from noon to 8 p.m. but is prohibited on the boardwalk. Drinkers must be at least 21 years old.

Agote will have to appear in court and, if she’s found guilty, will have to pay a $250 fine and perform community service.

That sounds bearable. But Madriz, an investigator for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said the real blow could come if Agote’s driver’s license is suspended for one year.

“For 18-, 19-year-olds, a driver’s license is the biggest thing,” Madriz said. “They love to drive.”

Agote’s friend, Olivia Consuelo Martinez, 21, said she gave Agote a beer, officials said. Another investigator, Leslie Pond, warned Martinez about supplying alcohol to an underaged person and told her she could lose her pharmacy technician license if she were cited for the offense.

“You got a big break today,” Pond said. “But you won’t get two big breaks. Be smart.”

Yesterday was the first time in four years the ABC has conducted an alcohol sweep on the beaches. Much of the department’s work concentrates on checking bars and liquor stores.

The sweep was meant to complement attempts by the San Diego Police Department to reduce alcohol-related problems at the beaches, which are a source of frequent complaints from residents.

About six hours into the sweep, which began at 12:30 p.m., Madriz reported 10 citations — five for underage drinking, three for adults consuming alcohol in prohibited areas, one for furnishing beer to minors and one for possession of marijuana.

The message is: Authorities are watching.

And, if caught, don’t lie. False excuses, such as the one authorities say Agote gave Madriz — she reportedly said she might have left her driver’s license in her car — could land you in jail.

On the boardwalk, Rachel Eleanor Frantzich, 27, and her friend, Kathryn Hope Comings, 32, were cited for drinking in a prohibited area, which could carry a fine of up to $1,000, investigators said.

The women were standing about 15 feet in front of a sign that said no drinking in that area, officials said.

“I didn’t know, I’m sorry,” said Frantzich, who was holding a plastic cup with beer in it, officials said.

Comings argued her cup was empty. Pond sniffed it and, while another agent filled out the citation, told Comings she could argue her case in court.

James Daniero of San Diego was arrested for allegedly selling beer without a license. Madriz said Daniero brought a keg to the beach.

While some of the beachgoers whose licenses were checked resented plainclothes investigators approaching them, others said alcohol sweeps keep the beaches safe.

“Safety is very important on the beach,” said Ryan Schenck, 26. “Being able to drink at the beach is a very nice privilege.”

Angela Lau: (619) 542-4584; angela.lau@uniontrib.com
[Illustration]
2 PICS; Caption: 1. Joxune Agote, 19, of San Diego emptied a beverage can as ABC investigator Leslie Pond (center) talked with Olivia Consuelo Martinez, 21, at Mission Beach. Agote was cited for underage drinking. Martinez was not cited. 2. USD students Chelsea Sokyrka (left) and Kristin Blomsterberg, both 21 and both of San Diego, showed their driver’s licenses to ABC investigators on a beach sweep. (B-8); Credit: 1,2. Dan Trevan / Union-Tribune

Credit: STAFF WRITER

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