Sheriff uses ‘drunken informant’ in illegal booze sales sting

In an “unusual sting” operation, the Johnson County Sheriff’s office sent a “drunken informant” into six stores selling alcoholic beverages and all six sold the intoxicated individual more alcohol in violation of state law.

Further from the Johnson City Press:

According to a news release sent by the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, deputies conducted the compliance check last week by sending an impaired informant into six businesses to buy alcohol. An undercover officer, who drove separately to each location, recorded each instance with a hidden body camera, and an investigator drove the drunken informant to the six businesses.

The release said all six businesses sold alcohol to the drunken informant. Under Tennessee law, it is illegal to sell alcohol to a visibly impaired person.

Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said the sheriff’s office organized the mass sting after an incident last month in which an off-duty employee witnessed a convenience store clerk sell alcohol to a visibly intoxicated customer. After buying alcohol, the man got behind the wheel of a vehicle and swerved into oncoming traffic leaving the store, Reece said, and fled the scene before officers could arrive.

…Reece said deputies gave the informant a breathalyzer test before sending him to the stings, and he clocked in at a .146 blood alcohol conten — nearly twice the legal limit of intoxication of .08 BAC in Tennessee. Reece said the informant was also showing physical signs of drunkenness, such as stumbling around in the store and fumbling for his wallet at the register, yet he was never refused service.

“It’s nothing to try to hurt people, it’s to try to educate them,” Reece said. “Don’t sell to these people if they’re already intoxicated.”