Photo, Close Enough to Identify CVS Clerk Selling Alcohol to Minor

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 18, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Yesterday, you smiled for "Candid Camera." Today, you smile for a selfie.

In any generation, however, you really don't smile for a police officer who is taking your picture. That was the case for a CVS clerk caught selling alcohol to a minor in Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board.

Police had sent the teenager into the store as a decoy, then asked the clerk and the boy -- beer in hand -- to pose for a photo. That was good enough for identification, said California's Third District Court of Appeal.

Photo Op

The clerk, working at a CVS store in South Lake Tahoe, was probably busy on May 2, 2015. When young Christian took a can of beer to the register, the clerk asked him for proof of birth date.

He said he was born on Nov. 27, 1996, which made him 18 years old at the time. The clerk -- apparently not hired for accounting -- sold him the beer.

Christian went outside and told the police officer, who had used him as a decoy. They went inside; the boy pointed out the clerk; and the officer told the clerk she had sold alcohol to a minor.

The clerk "freaked out" and apologized, then the officer asked her and Christian to pose for a photo. That led to administrative action against CVS; it could also have been contributing to the delinquency of a minor for the clerk.

Administrative Action

CVS appealed the suspension of its liquor license, arguing that administrative procedure required a face-to-face identification of the clerk. The minor had merely pointed her out from 10 feet away, CVS argued.

The Third District noted that the Supreme Court upheld the use of minors as decoys in Provigo Corp. v. Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board. And the CVS clerk and the minor were in "reasonable proximity" when the teenager pointed her out.

"The clerk in these circumstances certainly knew or reasonably ought to have known that she was being identified," the appeals court said.

Not to mention, she posed for a "sober" photo with him.

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