The East Bay's Most Historic Route

Berkeley Police Crack Down
On Student Underage Drinking

By Joy Jia, September 5, 2004 02:04 PM

BERKELEY -- An undercover police officer, dressed in a black sweatshirt, baseball cap and jeans, approached a UC Berkeley undergraduate last night and asked for his ID at Kip's Restaurant on Durant Avenue. Leaning against the wall, suddenly looking pale and terrified, the youth handed over three IDs, one of which turned out to be a phony. The officer cited him for minor possession of alcohol and possession of fake ID.

The student promised he would not come back to the bar until he turned 21 in three months.

He was not the only disappointed drinker in Berkeley. The police issued 142 alcohol-related citations over a three-night period last week, 37 of which were for minor possession of alcohol, according to the Office of Student Life at U.C. Berkeley.

The Berkeley Police Department and the UC Berkeley Police have joined efforts to crackdown on underage drinking in bars and restaurants since student returned to school last week. Their efforts have been bolstered by a $50,000 grant from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. In the past week-and-a-half, an increased number of police officers have been patrolling the streets and working undercover in restaurants and even at the fraternity parties.

Henry J. Keally, the owner of Blake's on Telegraph Ave., a hot spot for Berkeley nightlife, said he has never seen police enforcing alcohol regulations at this level in his 29 years as the restaurant owner.

Last night, three different groups of undercover policemen raided nearby Kip's, randomly carding customers. The heightened police presence has pressured local bar owners to enforce stricter standards to admit customers.

John Boyles, the bouncer at Kip's, was carefully checking everyone's ID last night, referring back to the State ID Guide and examining the driver's licenses under a specially designed florescent light.

Zack R. Solomon, a 22-year-old Berkeley resident, said he was turned away at the door because the bouncer thought he was one inch shorter than the height specified on his ID.

Sitting at the bar at Kip's, John D. Tee, a third-year Berkeley Environment Science student said he was not particularly bothered by the stricter standard when he was asked to show a second form of ID.

James A. Cohoun, whose friend was cited earlier that night, said angrily, "I think it's a disgrace. In Ireland, where I came from, the legal drinking age is 18."

Boyle said the crackdown on underage drinking has started to affect Kip's business. "Look at the room, last semester you would have had problems walking in the bar." There were only three or four occupied tables at 11 p.m. last night.

Boyle also thinks the tightened law enforcement will not stop underage people from drinking. "They can drive down to Oakland or drink at their apartments. "

Rob Maneson, a staff member at the Office of Student Life, said he is also not sure if the crackdown will have a positive impact but he thinks, "it's going to keep Berkeley a safer place."